"You're down, you're down!" Sam yelled as I rounded the dining room corner. I apparently had accidentally walked into an all out play war. Lego guns and zoob bombs had been constructed and of course, the tiny space gun Jack got the last time we went to Chuck E. Cheese when Aunt Katie was visiting.
It was a playdate, two pairs of brothers and the violent play was pretty intense. They mapped out hiding places and had strategies. Four school age boys running around in our tiny house made it crazy enough, but what about this particular play? Kids have been playing cops and robbers, even the very old cowboys and indians for years but I have to say, violent play has always bothered me.
We have had a pretty strict "no gun" rule in our house, real or toy, up until the space gun. The boys received some wooden swords and shields years ago that seemed okay and gave an outlet for the play. The next christmas they got marshmallow shooters which were actually fun, but other than that we have managed to keep them at bay. Even with all the gun prohibition, lately they just started making their own. I discovered how wildly creative you can be with some cardboard and black electrical tape. Do boys just crave violence?
For whatever reason, I totally surrendered to the play this day, I even pretented to die when I was shot in the hallway and made a joke to please spare the baby. They giggled and ran away, it looked like they were having the time of their lives.
With our recent school troubles and the fact that I grew up in a house of four girls, I wondered if I'm just missing some things about boys. The Raising Boys section turned out to be crazily informative. I found this to be pretty interesting:
"Mothers are always saying to me, 'Why is my son racing around, not talking, and not listening? Why is he obsessed with playing war and shooting? What's happened to my sweet, vulnerable little boy who used to cuddle with me?'" says Michael Thompson, Ph.D. host of the documentary RAISING CAIN and co-author of the book of the same name. "This is a valid question, because no one wants their son to grow up to be violent. But interpreting play as an early indicator of violence is a misunderstanding both of the nature of boy activity and the real journey to violence that some boys undergo."
So now I am off to watch Raising Cain to quiet my mother heart. I'm still not sure about the toy gun issue. What do you think? Do you allow play weapons at your house? What are the rules when it comes to violent play? Share your thoughts about raising boys in the comments.