Kids with guns – a moral quandary?
There are few things more satisfying for a parent than your child receiving a Christmas present they just can’t put down. For Jack, this has proved to be a pirate ship from his auntie, which he’s been absorbed with morning, afternoon and night for the last week.
We did find ourselves in a minor quandary though. The level of detail on the boat was very impressive – as much for me as for Jack – complete with climbable rigging, crows-nest and a working pulley system with treasure ‘hook’. However, there was also a working cannon and ‘shot’, as well as axe and cutlass-wielding pirate figurines.
Now I don’t have a moral objection to kids playing soldiers or acknowledging the existence of weaponry in their play per se, it’s just that this was the first time we’d actually been confronted with them being featured in Jack’s own toys.
Both my wife and I have seen him play soldiers etc at other people’s houses. His obsession with fish also necessitates an awareness of the animals meeting their untimely demise at the hands of us ‘ruthless’ humans. However, none of this has helped us work out how we’re going to respond to this daily confrontation with a new toy that – for the first time – sees our three-year-old acting out chopping at someone with a miniature plastic axe, or firing a canon at his duck soft toy.
Play or not, it’s not the kind of thing we’re used to seeing Jack do, and it presents us with a whole new category of behaviour we have to check for levels of ‘appropriate’ aggression.
Although maybe I’m just overthinking this, such is my tendency with these kinds of things. In my eyes, he’s still a sweet toddler whose idea of rough and tumble is being tickled and it’s all probably a sign that he’s just getting older.
Oddly enough, he’s still not calling it a cannon or a gun. We all had a good giggle last week when a family friend came to visit and made the mistake of referring to it as the latter, before receiving a prompt reprimand from Jack. Apparently, it’s “not a cannon, it’s a ‘poinker’”.