My boys were given not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX Nerf guns for Christmas. SIX. I am now up to my ears in Styrofoam artillery. It's ridiculous. One model is battery operated and works and sounds like a machine gun. It has an 18 bullet clip... Seriously?! I asked Santa (read my husband Vin) when had I given permission for heavy artillery to be brought into the house? Santa (read Vin) said to take a pill and deal with the fact boys like to play with guns.
Flashback to being one of only two female siblings in a house of eight. With six half brothers living in the house in which I grew up, the playing of violent games was nearly constant. Most vividly recalled is the occasion three of them stuffed a Charlie McCarthy doll with fireworks and blew him up in my sand box. Another was the time my brother Chris and his best friend Ted staged a gun fight for my behalf using cap guns and ketchup on a night parents were out. The pop of the guns and the red splotches on their white t-shirts were awfully convincing to my five year-old self.
Flash-forward to 2011 when newscasts too often report on disturbed young men carrying out killing sprees in public places. Mothers like me cringe to think that the hollow-eyed, trench-coat wearing youth shooter on the screen is someone's son. What went wrong? How do these kids turn into cold-blooded killers? Did it all start one Christmas morning with that first Nerf gun? Or with SIX Nerf guns all at once?
I think I was meant to be European. Sex is alright with me. I don't balk at bared breasts and sex on screen. My boys will see breasts and have sex someday. God, I hope so anyway. So what's the big deal if they happen to see these natural things on screen? On the other hand, I hope they won't ever have the occasion to handle a semi-automatic weapon or kill another human being.
It's a conundrum. I want to be the cool mom and accept that boys like to play with guns. But I'm also the mom who has taught my sons not to kill bugs they find in the house but instead remove them fully intact and alive to the outside door step.
As I think on all of this, I am showing early signs of a toy-invoked post traumatic stress disorder. Never knowing when I might be ambushed by my little assasins has me on edge. My eye is twitching like the crazy Inspector Dreyfus' in the Pink Panther movies.