Friday, October 21, 2011

the butt of the question: airsoft or errsoft?

Gareth, wants an Airsoft gun.  Ugh.

I “raised” him without toy guns or play that modeled violence. 


My dreamy new-mother fantasy lasted until preschool—a whimsical magical place that taught my innocent first born about numbers, colors, seasons and…perilous space-aged, laser-fied, contests to the death. 

Once those maniacal miniature ninja assassins enlightened my little angel about shooting (funny how it’s always other people’s kids who model negative behavior, never your own), Gareth commandeered everything in the house (the legos, the tinker toys, the link’n logs, the playdough, even the pretend ketchup and mustard) for battle. 

But this "natural" fascination with firearms didn't suggest to me that I should entertain it.  I mean, some kids "naturally" play with their own poop, but that doesn't mean we should let them! Kids have lots of urges that we teach them to control, don't they?  Most kids behave really selfishly until we teach them to share.  Others want nothing but sugary foods, but we teach them to eat fruits and vegetables. 

Why not discourage their interests in guns and violence?

I believe that the household models a miniature nation.  We make things in the home the way we want them in the world.  Likewise, through their play, kids practice the grown-up behavior they observe and may eventually adopt. 

I'm not suggesting that toy gun-wielding children grow up to be mass murderers, but I do think that kind of play normalizes a mindset that accepts “battle” as a legitimate way of solving problems i.e. the military and war. 

So my little mini-nation had been invaded by a ninja assassin.  What to do?  We justified that Gareth’s games were creative, didn’t involve screens, and often occurred in the glorious outside. 

To register our disapproval, we refused to buy toy guns.  I also refused to participate in what Gareth called “fighting games.”  So if he wanted me to play with him, he had to find a different activity.

Gareth squished the playdough pistols back into their containers years ago. 

But now, at 14, he wants a toy gun that actually shoots things. 


I suppose there are worse things: drugs and sex come immediately to mind.  But really?     

And he knows me well.  He lobbied for the gun by claiming it will get him off the couch, away from the video games, and outside. 

Um…mowing the lawn would do that too.  Does he realize that?

Still:  smart angle. 

Smart kid.

Smart alec.

Yet I’m swayed.  Crumbling.  Pathetic.  In fact, I’ve already given in. 

My logic: he already plays Airsoft when we go away with friends to their farm. They lay out battle fields, teams and strategies then hunt one another for hours.

I persuade myself it’s a glorified game of tag that is creative, imaginative, outside. 

Haven’t I said that before?

Maybe it’s ok.

BUT, maybe it’s not.  Doesn’t it mimic war? 

I know it does.  BUT we’ve modeled nonviolence for so many years, “using our words,” taking spiders outside like good little pacifists.  Could Airsoft undo all that?

Probably not.  BUT, I don’t want him to own a gun – toy or not. 

BUT he has grown.  He needs to start making his own decisions.  As much as we show him guidance, we should also show him trust and confidence. 

BUT …everything has a “but” in this post—right down to the guns themselves!

BUT, letting him own the gun breaks a longtime rule, insinuating my approval.    

BUT, he’s going to buy it with his own hard-earned money.

BUT, he will keep it under our roof, play with it in our yard.

BUT, he’ll play anyway with borrowed guns.

BUT, I don’t want him to own a gun – toy or not. 

OK – I’ve definitely said that before. 

And so it goes.

No comments:

Post a Comment