Boys will be boys...Why can't boys be boys? I have a 7-year-old son, Gomer, who is one of the kindest and sweetest boys you'll ever meet. He is gentle and loving and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. He also has an enormous collection of guns, swords, Army men, and other "violent" toys. (If anyone reading this knows Gomer, vouch for me, will ya? Because I know this just sounds like a crazy mama bragging about her kid.)
When he was a baby I bought "gender neutral" toys for him. Everything was educational. We don't own real weapons, and we don't have any close family members who do. My husband is not what anyone would describe as "macho," and he never tried to interest Gomer in boy behavior. We both just let Gomer take his own course naturally. He migrated toward balls at an early age and learned to kick and throw a ball through trial and error. And then, at about 2 years old, he became that kid who would chew his sandwich into a gun. Before I had children, I never believed they existed. But, believe me. They do.
At age 3, he discovered pirates and swordfighting. At age 4, we harnessed that love and sent him to fencing lessons, where he is still an eager student.
I can't tell you how many moms I come across who forbid their sons to play with pretend weapons and act like my son is a bad influence for having them. I remember growing up with a younger brother who was very similar to Gomer. He always had a gun tucked in his pants or a sword in his hand (and sometimes both). I can remember when my brother's friends would come to play and they'd go absolutely bananas playing with his weapons. They became violent and wild and couldn't be distracted to play anything else. When you'd ask them about their upbringing and their toys you'd always find out these little boys were never allowed to play with pretend weapons or "violent toys."
I remember making a decision early on that I wouldn't deny my kids stuff like pretend weapons or TV or sweets or whatever. I would allow it in moderation, because I didn't want them to binge on their vices at their friends' houses. Everyone needs to learn boundaries and moderation, and this is the perfect way for me to teach my kids. Of course, if they had their choice they'd watch TV all day while eating candy, so I have to teach them limits.
I just don't understand the parents who want to stifle their kid's creativity. Yes, swashbuckling is creative. It's physical (you try swordfighting for an hour - it's a work out), it's imaginative (you should see some of the costumes he comes up with for his character), it's analytical (he's got to use strategy to defeat his opponent), and it's an outlet for his energy (he always goes to bed early and sleeps soundly). My son enjoys reading, drawing, and riding his bike, but he also enjoys a good Nerf battle or swordfight, and I don't see anything wrong with that.- By Jen Piwtpitt
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