Cops & Robbers and Other Taboo Subjects

Originally posted on The Hodge Podge Diaries 05/01/13

 

As a mother, I often pride myself on not allowing the "crowd" to dictate my parenting choices, to trust my God-given intuition and go with my gut.

 

So it surprised me the other day, when I found myself "shushing" my boys in our local dollar store when they had picked up a few toy guns and were begging me to get them with their saved piggy bank money. To be honest, I was downright mortified. Another mother was at the other end of the aisle with her little girl, picking out a princess puzzle and my judgy-mommy senses were tingling like crazy.

"First of all, " I said calmly, "you can put down the toy AK-47, it ain't happening..." I stood in the aisle, a wall of make-believe artillery before me and tried to quickly sort through my emotions.

 

 

 

Before I had children I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what kind of a mother I was going to be and what I would and wouldn't do. One of my "not in my house" rules was that there would be no guns of any kind. I suppose my reasoning for this was heavily based on having worked in schools and day cares where violence, aggression and of course guns (toys and otherwise) are prohibited. 

 

Being the mother of two, healthy, young boys has me throwing out, rewriting and bending every "rule" in my Mommy handbook. At times I feel as if I'm raising two young pups, with constant "scrapping", competition and a lot of energy. I'll admit there have been moments where I've had to ask my husband, "Is this normal?".

 

 

So along with allowing the occasional wrestling match to continue without interruption (as long as both parties are giggling and it's not going too far), I bent the rule on guns in our house. At first it was the water guns, then Nerf guns and now I was being faced with yet another tweak to the rule which would essentially make it null and void; would I allow a toy gun, gun under my roof?

 

Here's the thing, little boys (at least my own and the majority of those I've made contact with) will turn anything and everything into a sword, gun, laser, light-sabre etc. much to the contradiction of my hopelessly flawed Mommy handbook.

 

 

 

 

I spent a lot of time, at first, trying to snuff out this desire for all things that go "boom", but soon learned that it's a losing battle and really not one worth having in the first place.

 

This love of hardware is not new, it's been around for ages. From sword fights to cops and robbers, there have been innocent little boys playing "hero" for centuries, with no one putting their nose in the air and tsk tsking it.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am sensitive to the fact that in recent years there have been far too many gun-related acts of violence in schools and an overall surge in violence period. I am also keenly aware that with that; we are searching for answers and preventative measures, thinking that a toy gun somehow glamorizes violence and therefore should not be allowed.

Before I had two little boys of my own, I wholeheartedly sided with that theory.

Now, as I watch my boys and their innocent, naturally driven forms of play, I just don't see the harm nor the need to try and suppress it.

 

It begs the question; is stifling the innate pup-like aggression in little boys the way to go?

My Mommy-intuition tells me that going that route may do more harm than good.

If given an outlet, like running, wrestling and yes, playing cops and robbers, good guys vs. bad guys my boys are happy, healthy and thriving.

If I tried to stop them from wrestling, playing with guns (whether it be a toy, stick or thin air) and other imaginary weapons, I'd lose my voice, would spend a lot of time reprimanding them and they'd be left feeling micro-managed with a large part of their imagination being stifled.

 

 

So with that in mind, I made a compromise. the AK-47, no way, not now, not EVER.

We settled on a Cops and Robbers kit, complete with bandit's mask, sheriff's badge and a silver, plastic revolver.

There are firm rules in place, we do not point the gun at someone's face, we do not point the gun at those who aren't playing the game, the gun stays home (there is an appropriate time and place for the toy gun and places like, say, playgroup/school is not one of them), if any of the rules are broken, or if I feel the gun was being used inappropriately, it will be gone, no second chances, gone.

I also took the opportunity to explain {again} the importance of understanding that guns are NOT toys and can hurt and even kill people and that they need to be respected (my Dad is an avid hunter and this is something that I had drilled into my psyche at an early age).

 

I'm at peace with my decision. Do I think there will be those out there who disagree? Absolutely.

But with society pushing for the "debunking" of gender stereo-types and schools everywhere shifting to a "no-tolerance" stance on aggressive behaviour, I feel the need to speak up on the behalf of little boys everywhere.

 

Yes, changing the way we think of gender and understanding that not ALL boys are as I described is great progress. Tough consequences for cruel and violent behaviour at school is absolutely a positive step in the right direction, but smothering a boy's (or even a girl's) nature by trying to control how they play will do nothing but damage. As with most things in life, there has to be a balance.

 

Children need guidance, love and nurturing. They need to be understood. If these needs are being met (and I hope in my sons' cases they are), then allowing them to just be who they are will only lead to positive things.

 

What are your beliefs surrounding the idea of "boys being boys" and "girls being girls"?


What are your own thoughts on toy guns? Why?


Please feel free to share, your thoughts and opinions are welcome and appreciated!


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