As a mom of three boys, I am no stranger to loud, noisy games. Having grown up with all sisters and a more quiet (albeit high-drama) style of play, I have finally adjusted to the ways that boys play. They don't just drive toy cars, they slam them into each other and send them sailing down the stairs to perform death-defying stunts. They don't paint with brushes when they can dip their entire hand in the jar of paint and slam it down on the paper, sending splatters all around the room. They don't walk anywhere - they run, shove, jostle, and slam. Anything with a smooth surface that will raise them a foot or two off the ground will be adopted as a step stool to reach something inappropriate that has been purposely stored out of their reach. Any food item with accompanying liquid is fair game for a science experiment of some sort. And so on and so on. But today the boys introduced me to a newer, more violent form of play - a little game they call "Let the Bad Guys Beat Each Other Up".
This game involves coloring your face with sidewalk chalk (remniscient of war paint) and plastering a nasty scowl on your face. One person dons a bike helmet and the other person a boating lifejacket (bullet proof vest?). You then chase each other around the driveway engaging in a form of hand-to-hand combat that looks something like a cross between a catfight and kung fu. While I admit that I had to fight the urge to laugh at first, I felt a little unsettled by the fact that they naturally gravitated towards such a violent game at such an early age (the two oldest are 3 and 4). And I also found myself wondering where in the world they even got the idea? They don't play with older kids and we're very careful not to let them watch violent movies (even Cartoon Network is off-limits at our house). Their primary play games are still Matchbox cars, trains, and Little People - we haven't even entered the worlds of super heroes or army guys. So how would they know about bad guys or beating them up? I'm bracing myself for the moment they discover swords and guns, which I figure can't be far off.
Having never wielded a weapon more deadly than a magic Princess wand myself, I feel ill-equipped to manage this parenting situation. And I'm not sure how much help my husband, the former owner of an entire intergalactic Star Wars battleground setup, will be when push comes to shove (excuse the pun). In my head, I know that violence is a reality in our world and I can't shield them forever. I also know that boys have been playing Cowboys and Indians and Army Guys since the beginning of time and the vast majority of them avoid becoming serial killers. But in my heart, I want my boys to be above solving problems with violence. Sure wish I could use my Princess wand to conjur up a little advice for myself here...
An original Deep South Moms blog post.