War Games

I am really into Love, Not War and tackling things diplomatically and whatnot. Early on, I forbade toy weapons in the house and spoke to the boys about peace and conversation. We have planted hundreds of trees, saved animals and played with dolls.

It didn't make the slightest difference. One day, they became Real Boys and every stick, every lego thing, every banana was a weapon. Their little girl friends, around that time, became more girly despite their mothers' attempts to raise Strong Women. The boys played at protecting the girls... and these kids did NOT have a T.V. Where did this come from?

A few years ago I had a discussion with a pacifist friend: He is into planting indigenous food crops and creating water swales in preparation for the end of the world. I said, "When the end of the world comes, the strongest, baddest, most violent people will survive. Not the food-planters." He disagreed, of course, and I was only giving him a hard time on purpose. We all hate to think that the human race might evolve into something MORE violent and murderous! Our visions of Utopia always involves gardens of Eden and happy loving humans. We raise our sons in hopes that they will fit into a new and peaceful world, not in hopes that they will be sent far away to kill and die.

Yesterday, we bought Nerf Guns. Today, it's mayhem around here. And my sons, raised by an anti-war family, not exposed to violence in the media, have taken to War Games like fish to water.



I have a lot to say on this topic...I have researched and read all there is to read on boys and weapon play. I was horrified when my son, at age 4, started turning everything into a gun.
It's play, and all kids learn through play. They process the world and whatever it is they are working on, through play. I still don't like it, and we have rules (like no aiming at living things - I know what fun is THAT?).
And? the 8 year old got his first nerf gun this year for his birthday and no, it seems, we have an arsenal. UGH.
I watched the same thing happen with my grandson who wasn't allowed guns and makes every stick a gun (also without TV). I think the best idea is just keep talking about how conflicts can be solved other than killing each other and reading about specific examples of alternatives and discussing them, etc... let's hope for a change because I don't want my grandson to die in old mens wars either. God, this is so serious!
Nan Sheppard said…
This IS serious!

Yesterday, Sam took a stray Nerf bullet in the eye. It stung, but he still has an eye, unlike my great-aunt who lost an eye in a similar childhood game. I do let the boys shoot at each other... I know it's not a good thing. Still working on the rules around here!
TKW said…
Oh, I feel your pain. Despite all of our efforts to keep things gender neutral in the house, my girls love all things princess and fairy.

My husband jokes that they fart pink feathers.

But hey, at least nobody gets hurt with Nerf. :)
Anonymous said…
Yes, it's true, they're just wired. But mine will help in the garden AND Have Nerf wars and hopefully the balance makes them better suited for life (and survival).
The Mother said…
I started raising my four boys with the best feminist intentions of the late 80s. No gender-assigned toys. No guns.

Didn't work. They never saw a gun, not in toys, not on tv, never. Didn't stop them from picking up a stick and aiming it at their little brother.

It's hardwired, in the genes. Testosterone is the most dangerous drug ever.
Anonymous said…
We took an early hand with our girls. We wanted them to be strong independent women and not "princesses" waiting for a knight on a white horse. Hurmph! So there! Women's lib all the way babe!
Thus began hours of shooting arrows, sword fighting, wrestling, rope tying, woodwork, plumbing, water gun wars, hiking, water polo, karate, football...we basically threw everything at them (blue room and all at their request).
But lo and behold...in snuck dress-up in all her glory, fanatical Lisa Frank, rainbow nail polish, barbie and all her accomplices, My Little Pony, flowery little tea sets, natural-born ballerinas...

Where does that leave us...with some pretty awesome people in the making...

Anonymous said…
I found this really interesting - I don't have kids but I've always wondered whether boys really are hard-wired.

When I was growing up we had the rule of never aiming any gun-like plaything at another living thing. I certainly hope Sam heals up well and quickly!

My parents discouraged gun play and also stressed non-violent resolution. I like to think it worked: I have a brother who isn't violent in the least!
Anonymous said…
You're right, we are fighting a losing battle with genetics.

My two boys would create weapons out of anything (legos, bread crusts) when they were younger. They had never been allowed to play with toy guns or watch any violent shows.

My family was amazed when i finally capitulated and bought their first Nerf guns a couple of years ago.

I hope your sons are enjoying their Nerf guns!