Thursday, March 27, 2014
The Pow-Pow Conundrum
I do not want guns in my house. It is just something that I am not comfortable with. The same holds true for toy guns, after all why would it be all right to point a play gun at someone when doing so with the real thing could prove to be lethal? With one minor exception I thought we had kept toy weapons away from Sidney. (The exception being in Albania, the afternoon we returned home from work to find Sidney playing cops and robbers in the street with the neighborhood kids. His pointing the toy gun at us as we backed into the driveway freaked me out. After that we reiterated to the nanny that we did not condone Sidney's playing with toy guns and I thought that was the end of it). But Sidney being Sidney, and Sidney being a precocious little boy, he wants to play with all things boy, including "pow-pows" as he calls guns.
Whenever the subject of guns came up I would skillfully (or so I thought) change the subject. Requests to play "pow-pow" with Sidney would be turned into playing with matchboxes or cooking up a mean in his play kitchen. Or we would read books or play trains. But then he turned his train tracks into toy guns and wanted to play "pow-pow". Over time these deflections are being more difficult to pull off. Since moving to Belgium and living in close proximity to two military bases where some personnel visibly carry guns, Sidney's interest in the weapons has only increased. I could blame it on school and hanging around other kids but I think that environment is only partially to blame. We are after all in the military so it is natural that guns would be around and people here aren't necessarily adverse to their presence. When Sidney asks why the guards carry pow-pows I let him know it is to keep people safe. He accepts the answer but then says he wants to own one so he can keep us safe. Gun free zones are clearly marked and Sidney quickly hones in on the signs saying no guns allowed. He asks why they can't be carried into these buildings. I struggle with how to help a four year old understand that sometimes guns are good and sometimes they are bad. This explanation just seems to simplistic for a complex subject but I also don't want to instill a sense of fear in him. But somehow, regardless of what I say or don't say the subject always returns to Sidney wanting his own gun. Toy or not, despite all of his begging, I just won't want one in our home.
But then Sidney went to the store with Glenn and returned with a tiny Star Wars themed Lego set. Those tiny little men, both "good guys and bad guys" had their own "pow-pows". Sidney was beyond ecstatic with his new toys while I was less than thrilled. By themselves, those tiny little guns being toted around my two inch figures are harmless enough. (Their biggest threat is my stepping on them since the living room rug camouflages them perfectly). As I watch Sidney engaging his new toys in shoot outs with the good guys always winning I wonder if they are so bad after all. I question how can I use these miniature toy guns as a teaching opportunity about good and bad and their respective consequence. After all they are just toys and tiny ones at that. But what happens when my little Jedi in the making comes home with the next toy gun that is even bigger or more realistic? I guess I will just deal with that issue when it arises but in the meantime I'm thinking about it and what I will say.....