As a parent you become a moral compass guiding your child through the rights and wrongs of life. As you into plunge into parenthood and there’s an expectation you have a view on everything. It begins with birth plans and develops through feeding and sleeping arrangements. Progresses to sharing and manners. Your child asks you the trickiest of questions about the ways of the world, the behaviour of adults and you (hope) you have the ‘right’ answer and can equip them with the tools and information to develop their own moral compass.
We made a decision that we would avoid gender stereotypes. We painted the room where the baby was to sleep a deep blue, because we liked the colour not because we knew what sex the baby was, we didn’t.
From the beginning it’s difficult to avoid clothes that don’t present a gender bias, I avoided T’shirts with words such as on “menace”. I’ve brought toys without a view on whether they be for boys or girls, hence we have a favourite baby doll and pram (admittedly the pram is blue). My son has a doll’s house, which I like because it encourages more imaginative play than shoving a car down a track and making ‘broom’ noises but we have that too. I suspected that the doll’s house would have a short lifespan and while ‘baby’ is still played with, the doll’s house, largely gathers dust. His choice is much more cars down the track.
Other parents have told me that whatever boys will play guns and fighting. Boys make guns out of anything. This has not been my experience, however, nursery has brought the advent of “shooting guns” in that they have been mentioned. Personally, I’m not comfortable with ‘play’ guns and so showed little interest, other than to say I don’t really like them. Just before Noo turned 4, we went to a party for an 8-year-old. Friends of mine, Noo knew no one at the party. I watched as he wiggled his way into a crowd of older boys who were dividing up toy guns. Noo secured him self a couple of ‘guns’ and spent the rest of the party grinning broadly and ‘shooting’, mostly, at me, while I attempted a disinterested face.
The general parental view seems to be you can’t avoid toys guns and eventually you give in.
Last week we went to another friend with older children and Noo spent a happy hour playing with a Nerf gun (a plastic gun that fires foam bullets for the uninitiated).
I have made my view on guns fairly plain. I don’t like them.
“Why don’t you like shooting guns, Mummy?”.
“Because guns can hurt people.”
“But these are ‘atend”. I’m having a conversation about guns with a child that can’t even pronounce pretend. This seems a bit premature.
“I don’t think it’s nice to play a game where you pretend to shoot people, because real guns can kill people” I retort.
“It’s not the same, it’s not real, it’s only a’tend”.
I think it’s important for children to have choices and I think that sometimes denying them something can make it more attractive.
At the weekend we purchased two Nerf guns. The two males in this house have happily been playing at “shooting guns” for hours. The laughter and the giggles have been boundless.
While I feel a bit grumpy.
What’s your view?