Elliott and I played in the backyard last week and as we usually do, we look at the air force planes that regularly fly overhead. Except, this time it was different.
Elliott played with a long stick and as the aircraft flew overhead he, all of a sudden, started pointing the stick at the plane and imitated what I believed to be a shooting sound, a toy gun. Once the plane was gone, he pointed at birds and made the same sound.
I will be honest with you in saying that I was overcome with numerous emotions as this was the first time I had witnessed this behaviour. I was upset, I was confused and I was angry…but not at Elliott.
Shielding him from violence
In the 3 years that Elliott has been with us, Mr. G and I have done everything we can to shield Elliott from any sort of violence, especially gun violence. Whether it be violence on the news, a television show, movie and particularly Mr. G’s playstation game, Elliott does not see it. Elliott does not have any toy guns or toys that promote this type of behaviour and he never will. There’s only one thing that guns are for and that is to kill, my son doesn’t need to turn this into a play thing.
So the only place he could have learned this behaviour is from other children at childcare. I fear that all of my efforts have pretty much been thrown out the window.
My anger, well it’s because I have come to realise that there’s likely to be many less stringent parents out there that allow their children to be exposed to things like gun violence and swearing, therefore, any behaviour that stems from that will likely be exposed to my child in the playground.
It’s all about values
I’m angry because it’s the first time as a mother I’ve realised that this is going to be a challenge that I will face throughout Elliott’s childhood and possibly teenage years. I have realised that no matter what I do in raising Elliott the way I believe is right, he will always be exposed to things we are against, it is just inevitable.
There will always be children that are allowed to bring iPhones, iPads and gadgets to school at a young age when we don’t allow it. There will always be children who use foul language and my kids will likely pick it up. You get my drift….
I remember when my Mum told me about a time when I was in primary school, all of a sudden I started giving ‘the finger’ to my sisters. Mum caught me and told me that if she ever caught me doing it again she would wash my mouth out with soap (or cut my finger off, one of the two). I’d brought this little naughty little sign home from school because I’d seen the other kids doing it.
My sadness, well, it’s realising that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. It’s the fact that I can’t shield his innocent little mind from the nasties, as much as I have tried. I know he doesn’t understand the negative behind the shooting of a gun and he’s likely just imitating another child, but still, it’s likely he will understand one day.
So really, the only thing we can keep doing as parents is what we have been doing, raising him to emulate the values that are important to our family and trying to protect his innocence as long as we possibly can.
Has this happened to you with toy guns? How did you deal with it?