I always heard that boys just knew what a gun was regardless of their upbringing, but I never quite believed it until I had my own boy. I am here to tell you this is a true statement. I think we have done a good job of keeping him away from violent television. We don't watch anything when he is awake, save for the random kids show after naptime. He isn't allowed to have "shooters" as toys. I even find myself changing NPR when they start talking about the war and people dying. Yet time after time, Liam insists on pretending that every single thing that he picks up is a gun. Sandwiches, hockey sticks, baseball bats- they all become guns. I don't stop him from playing with other kids' gun toys or even from pretending his own toys are guns. I figure the more I fight it, the more he will want to do it. But when he asks if I want to play shooters with him, I politely tell him "No thank you. I don't really like shooters".
The problem I have with guns is the way violence is so prominently displayed in media. I don't want him to think of it as "normal" behavior. And believe me, you are not even aware of how overtly violent media is until you have kids and are trying to avoid it. I don't want to censor him from this stuff, I just don't think a 3 year old is ready to have a conversation about guns and death and murder. Call me crazy.
I felt alot better about the whole thing after I had a conversation with him on the topic. It went a little something like this...
Liam (pretending his army guys are shooting)
Me: Liam, what do you think happens when your army guys are shooting?
Liam: The monsters are there and they shoot the monsters
Me: And what happens to the monsters when the army guys shoot them?
Liam: They get a boo-boo and go away
Me: Why are they shooting the monsters?
Liam: Because they are bad guys.
Me: So the army guys shoot the monsters because they are bad. And then the monsters get a boo-boo and go away?
Liam: Yea, but then they go to the doctor and they are all better.
I don't know why this made me feel better. Maybe because he didn't use the "kill" or "die" words. Or because even though the monsters were bad, he still made a point to tell me they were gonna be ok. It's just hard to remember that he is 3 and he doesn't understand the scope of what a gun is just yet. In the meantime, there isn't much I can do but show my distaste for the things and hope he catches on. Yea I know, fat chance.