Stephen Marche and Alexandria Durrell face off on the contentious topic of kids and toy guns.
"Yes, I let my kids play with toy guns"
Stephen Marche, dad of two
I suppose in a perfect world, a blissful state of pure parenting theory, I would not want my son to play with toy guns. I would prefer for him and his friends to pretend to organize conferences for world peace instead of destroying massive, unreal armies of faceless enemies with imaginary artillery. But parenthood is the phase of life when you realize just how little your preferences matter. Little boys with guns are yet another moment when beleaguered resignation is by far the best course.
You may not want to buy your son a gun. You may forbid toy guns from your house. But if you have a boy, and you buy a banana at the grocery store, he will find a way to turn it into a gun. I have seen boys at my son’s daycare fold over Barbie dolls to turn them into pistols. Boys will use a leaf pile to mimic the explosions of grenades. They will turn gift-wrap tubes into bazookas. At university, I was told that these actions were the result of “cultural expectations” imposed through “social norms.” All I can say is my son sure didn’t get it from me. I don’t know a single person who owns a gun. I live in a downtown Toronto neighbourhood, where the residents’ values fully live up to any airy-fairy stereotypes you might care to impose; the kid ain’t exactly growing up in West Texas. And yet, for a mercifully brief phase around age three, whatever happened to be in my son’s hands became a gun.
In all honesty, I don’t know why boys turn everything and anything into instruments of deadly force. My suspicion is that boys are inherently violent. I don’t know if my infant daughter will want to play with toy guns. (My understanding is that all little girls want to be princesses, which is equally upsetting and inevitable.) But part of turning our little boys into men means teaching them to understand and control that violence. Pretending their aggressive nature doesn’t exist or, worse, teaching them to hide it, is foolish; much better, when they’re a bit older, to take them to the war museum. Show them what happens with all those guns. That makes the dream of those pretend peace conferences a little nearer.
Read on to find why Alexandria Durrell, mom of two, says "No" to toy guns>