Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Boys And Their Violent Toys

Late Blooming Mom is a product of 14 years' (K-4 through 12) Quaker education. At Friends Seminary in Manhattan, if you brought so much as a water pistol to school, you got sent home, and your parents got a talking-to. The Society of Friends (often referred to as Quakers) promote nonviolence and the belief that every person is holy. So playing with toy guns, or light sabers, or pirate sabers, or toy weapons of any kind, is verboten.

Yet little boys like to point plastic weapons -- or even, in my son's case, a rolled up piece of construction paper taped together -- make phaser sounds, and say, "You're dead!"

My little boy did not do this until he saw some other little boy do it at preschool. But now, I have to be the make-believe-play police, and tell him "'Star Wars' is not a good game to play."

At Rosh Hashanah dinner the other night, a good mom friend pointed out, "You have the poster for Star Wars up in your family room!" Yes, we do. But no, we haven't let the kids see it ... not yet.
We also have posters in there for "Lawrence of Arabia, " "To Have And To Have Not," and "The Glenn Miller Story," but have no immediate plans to screen any of those for the wee ones just yet. (Not even the utterly wholesome one about the trombone-playing band leader; sadly, they just wouldn't get it yet.)

I look forward to showing them "STAR WARS" when it's "age-appropriate." After all, it's a great movie.

And as far as violence goes, it's not so bad. True, an entire planet of innocent people gets blown up. But it's a fantasy, it's not a blood-spattering Marty Scorcese movie.

I realized, after the dinner, that the real point of all this isn't about when it's a good time to show a kid "Star Wars," about which parents can reasonably disagree.

It's that kids, and boys in particular, seem to automatically reach a point where they engage in pretend violent play, no matter how you bring them up, and how much you try to control their home environment, no matter what you tell them.

My son is one of the least aggressive four-and-half year-olds you'll ever meet. At least, he was before some other preschool boys got hold of his imagination. But I guess this is just the way it is. Doesn't mean I have to like it, or I can't tell the other kids at school, as my daughter did the other day, "'Star Wars' is not a good game to play at school.'" You go, girl.

As for my son, I'll just keep steering him toward other kinds of play for as long as I can, as best I can, and hope, even without the benefit of 14 years of Quaker education, and even with exposure to a lot of media he's not ready for, he comes out as uninterested in guns, and as peace-loving, as me.

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