Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shoot 'em up

Having restored my work-life balance for the second part of this week, last night found me in the playground with Eve at 6.05, having worked all day from home.

I was a little unsettled to find that many of the bigger boys (age 8 or 9) have taken to playing with guns. I have never really approved of guns as toys. Guns are possibly the one thing in the world I would like to abolish if I could have anything. The idea that someone could take the life of another with no more effort than a finger on a button, and the cheapness of life that this implies, scares me. I find the glamourisation of guns a horrible development.

I don't subscribe to the idea that toy guns or TV violence prompts some of the dreadful child gun crime we now see, such as the German school massacre this week. Undoubtedly this had nothing to do with toy guns and everything to do with a deeply disturbed teenager, however there is something about boys this young running around trying to kill each other that I find very unsettling.

After about 20 mins I heard one of the boys complaining to his friend about how the game was getting dull, and asking if they could play police and thief (the global version of cops and robbers I would imagine) instead.

Maybe this means I am getting worried about nothing.


fraught mummy said...

You're right, it is deeply unsettling. However, as a Mum to 2 young boys, it seems to be ingrained. Mine don't actually have any guns but anything that might actually resemble a gun becomes one. I gave the eldest some meccano at Christmas fondly imagining afternoons spent constructing diggers or the Taj Mahal. The only thing he has made is something that can double as a gun and a sword. Every time I undo it he makes it again. I have no idea where he picked up the idea of guns either. His TV viewing is strictly limited to CBeebies which don't do shoot outs. His books don't have stick-ups. I'm guessing some kid at nursery has started this game and that they don't actually know what the whole thing means. More it is running around pointing something at someone making farting noises. Even more disturbing is that we live in Bosnia, where a lot of people were recently killed by guns, although noone here seems to blink an eyelid at small boys running around pointing sticks at them shouting loudly.

On the bright side they are getting a lot of exercise.

I really think it is somehow hardwired into them. I've decided not to fight it but to gently remind them at suitable times that guns are dangerous and kill people and that isn't a good thing. Any other suggestions gratefully received!

Mummy said...

On my mother's principle never to say no to things unless they were really bad because then children just rebel and do them more, I suspect I should leave well alone. Who knows where they get this stuff from, they all grow out of it anyway.

I have, for example, no idea where Eve got her obsession with shoes and handbags from!

Sabina said...

Of course, there is a subtle lesson that can be taught here: my 3 love to watch James Bond films. While they really enjoy all the action, fast cars, gadgets, stunts, etc, the inevitable question always arises (bear in mind the eldest, Finn, is now 6)whenever there is a shoot out of some sort: "Is he/she dead?"
To which we reply - possibly too frankly and somewhat brutally - "Yes, that is what happens with guns."

None of them have ever asked for a toy one (yet), and the only version they play with are water pistols in the summer, in the pool.

Mummy said...

Last night at the playground one of the boys (probably aged 6 or 7) came up to Eve and I and started to shoot his, somewhat too big for a child his size, machine gun at us.

I put my hand over the end and said "ha ha, you can't shoot now". He pulled the gun away and shouted again "die die" (Fraught Mummy, it happens in all languages!). I madly flailed my arms and said "no I'm not, see", stuck my finger in the end of his gun and told him that shooting people was not very nice.

Miffed, he stomped off.

greenwords said...

I'm not big on guns as toys either. One of the few good things our former Prime Minister did was to implement strict gun control.

LottieP said...

My school had a lot of flaws but one thing they insisted on was that there should be no toy guns in the playground - for this very reason.

The real tragedy is that in some parts of the world the soldiers really are kids.

fraught mummy said...

Just realised that the most effective way to get mine to realise that killing me is not the way forward is to point out that if they shoot Mummy then noone is going to cook their tea later.

They don't actually have any toy guns, but sticks appear to multi task as guns, swords, dragon slayers, dinosaur diviners, nettle swipers and light sabers.

Mummy said...

Where do I get me a dinosaur diviner? That sounds very cool.