I was in a U.S. airport last week with my family and while we were checking in I watched a young boy at the next ticket counter. He was about 6 or 7 years old, maybe. His younger brother was close by, and his mom. They were waiting their turn, and he got busy. Shooting. His hand was his gun. It was incredible. I couldn't stop watching because he had the moves down pat. He would load his 'gun' with his other arm cocked back, lock it and then shoot around the corners of the check-in desk. Then he'd pop behind, out of sight and then launch forward again, cock, lock and shoot. Over and over and over again. His brother watched. His mom didn't tell him to stop. Instead she distracted him and got him playing a fun little dance game. He happily went along with her, but when she stopped, he went right back to shooting his imaginary attacker.
Where did he learn how to do that? He was so good. Was it television? Video games? I wondered where he'd be in 10 or 20 years.
He's a rather extreme example of a lot of boys who like to play with guns. My son didn't do that, at least not that I saw, but he loved water pistols, especially the bazookas that could shoot water 40 or 50 feet. I loved them too...we had a barrel full of them. He also played chase games with friends, all of them armed with those toy guns that shoot spongy bullets which I'd find all over the house when they were done. Should I have stopped him? Was it the sign of something terrible?
Three of my other team members here at TVOParents also have sons so we've talked about this, so much so that we brought in some experts to help us understand why boys like guns and what we should do about it. Here's our conversation Is Toy Gun Play Okay? If you don't have time to watch, download our podcast and listen to it on the way to work. Enjoy.