April 30, 2013

Pacifist Parent Puts Tykes in a Tank

I had to.  This park is well-known for the dozen or so tanks that have been parked here for decades.  Kids climb them every time they visit until they grow too self-conscious to scramble up and pose for a photo.  Then they come back in a few years and set their own children atop these mammoth vehicles.  It was the first true Saturday of spring, perfect for being outdoors;  as long as the boys gave equal time to the rest of the park, I was happy to let Henry and Liam have some rugged play.

Make no mistake, I am not changing my stance of zero tolerance for weapon play.  It is not by accident that the boys do not even own a squirt gun.  Occasionally, they will pretend that some long stick or pool noodle is a sword but that's as close to combat as I'll allow.  I have been known to throw away Happy Meal toys and return birthday presents in order to keep anything that resembles a gun away from my boys.  They are not allowed to watch any movie or television show in which the characters use weapons. And you know what?  There are still lots of shows to watch, learn from and enjoy.

Contrary to common belief, my sons, having not been given toy pistols, do not aim random stick-like objects at targets and pretend to shoot.  Why do people assume that that is okay?  That boys will be boys and that's how they should be?  What value is there in that kind of play?  I want my children to grow up to be strong, brave and kind.  When they go out into the world,  I never want them to intentionally harm another human being.  So why would I have them practice the opposite behavior in our living room?

In the past week, I've witnessed two things that are hard to believe --especially in a post-Sandy Hook society.  Or maybe...sadly, easy to believe.  One day as I was on my way to pick up Henry from kindergarten, I heard a rhythmic popping sound coming from a parked car in front of the school.  Inside was a preschooler shooting what I think was a cap gun (do they still make those?) at the school windows.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I didn't see anyone else in the car--presumably they were meeting older children at the school doors.  With each pop, I felt nauseous.  I wanted to grab that toy from the child's hands and shout No! in his face.  Then I wanted to find and slap his parent.  But I didn't.  Because, after all, it is a parochial school.  And a free country.

Where will that preschooler be in fifteen years?  Hmmmm, maybe he'll be working in retail.  The young employee I saw today certainly has been holding faux weapons for a while.    As he crossed in front of me, he pointed his hand-held price scanner at a colleague and pretended to shoot.  I could tell that was what he was doing because he added sound effects.  I must assume that this young man was a high school graduate.  Although he looked like a student, it was noon on a weekday--so he must be at least eighteen.  If he wants to shoot someone so badly that he can't wait until his shift is over, why didn't he just enlist in the army?  Maybe since the store is called Target, he thought he had.

So despite this post's first photo, I have no intention of raising warriors.  Real or imagined.  There are too many other ways to spend our time on this planet.


  1. I love your post on guns! In my classroom (grade 3) I don't let my students pretend to have guns, with toys, their hands, or anything. As I will soon be having a boy of my own, I will continue to maintain this same belief. And I love how your post was followed by such beautiful shots of your boys doing other "boy" things :)

  2. Like you I do not want my girl playing with anything weapon! I was once told that kids will be kids blah blah and that they need a place to take out their aggression (again blah blah) and that they NEED to play with at least swords. I don't believe so, and am very glad to hear about you and your boys are are happy little boys and yet don't play with weapons...

    BTW many years ago I babysat for this kid, I think he was about five yrs. One day we were watching this TV programme. I don't remember its name but it was a cartoon about these animals and whatever adventure they were having, and there was no violence in it! None! And this boy mentioned that this was his favourite programme! I remember being so surprised - what? not any of those chaising and hitting and shooting etc that are in most cartoons?

  3. I love the photos (as usual) - especially the very last one :)

    I back you up completely on your stance on guns. You are doing absolutely the right thing and it's so sick that people think it's ok to even point a finger gun at another person and make that 'firing' noise. There are people I have met in this world who I cannot stand but I have never, ever thought of killing them. If they died a natural death I doubt I'd be sad, but I don't have 'day dreams' of killing anyone. Does that make me a minority?

  4. Completely agree! So very well said.

  5. I couldn't agree more! And your beautiful photos prove that a kid can have a ton of fun without a toy gun.