Thursday, August 27

What do you think?

Look at what my oldest made at Little Gym Camp this morning. It is two sided and stapled together with craft sticks in the middle - wouldn't want a flimsy gun when you're pretending to kill people, now would you? Shocking, isn't it?

My sister and I weren't allowed to have toy guns, not that we ever really wanted them. It was really drilled into us that pretending to kill someone is not okay as a form of play. As an adult I still believe that. As a teacher, my students were not allowed to build guns out of manipulatives, this was a building wide policy. My point in telling you this background is to illustrate where I was coming from when I picked my smiling 5 year old up from camp with a rainbow gun in her hand.

I let her keep it in the car ride home, figuring I'd talk to her about it when we arrived. That was until she started pointing it at Audrey. Seriously. Gun gone. Conversation had.

What do you think? What would you have done?

28 comments:

Mama Llama said...

Have you read this article?

http://www.mothering.com/bang-bang-youre-dead

I know it's about boys and guns, but it really helped me understand my child's attraction to what I considered aggressive playing.

Beth said...

oh yeah, GONE! My 4 yr old is really into investigating all that "shooting" talk, let alone the toys. It drives me nuts.
I agree with you - why would you want your child to play something you wouldn't want them to really do? I just don't see the point in that kind of play. It's how I was raised too - no water guns even.

A mãe da Mafaldinha said...

It's kind of shoking isn't it? Well i pretty much would do the same as you, and i would try to understand in what context did the camp monitors let the children draw such things! Ok, they do not generate violence "per si" but...
You did the right thing!
Mariana

Rachel said...

As a progun person who fully intends to have her children taught to use guns ... someday. Sigh. Anyway - I would be shocked and unhappy if my 5 year old came home swinging around a gun too.

I think that is something kids should be taught to use as a tool, all the saftey rules, where and when to point one, not a toy. We don't play with knives either - but all 3 of my oldest children (even the 4 year old) has been taught to use a knife in the kitchen. I don't trust my just 3 year old niece yet with even a butter knife. But we allow Joel to cut his own cheese with a sharp knife.

Tools are something you learn to use - and a gun is just another tool - albeit, a very powerful one, but no less harmful in careless hands than a chainsaw.

The Clarks said...

I totally agree with you. We have no toy guns in our house (even with three boys). Sometimes they make guns out of legos or other toys, but the rule then is that they are not allowed to "shoot" at people or animals. If that happens then it gets taken away. I understand that there is a natural curiosity, but it's not something that needs to be readily available to them.
If I were in your situation I would also talk to the camp teacher or director and find out what the point of the project was. I can't imagine any reason to have children decorate guns.

Leslie said...

oh my goodness...that is shocking. I am with you. my son has toy shooters but he is only allowed to play with them if he is not shooting at someone. As soon as that starts the gun is mine. I can't believe that they were doing that as a group craft.

amy said...

definitely seems like a strange camp craft :(

se7en said...

I would certainly talk to the folk in charge. I would have serious issues with this. A gun is a gun, wether it is pretty and pink or even a rainbow... doesn't make it less of a killer! I think the gun issue is the parents choice not the schools choice!!!

Rosa said...

very elaborate. I have a no gun (shooter, as my son calls it) in our home. But he became extremely creative and drawing, constructing, and pointing guns out of thin air. When we bought him a Star Wars laser gun, he used that to shoot at everyone. But that faded quickly. He isn't interested in them anymore. He doesn't make one out of the Paper Towel rolls. The mystery and desire of a gun is gone. We often tell him that guns are dangerous and shouldn't be used or pointed at anyone or anything. I think discussing that is most important.

ksjjpalmer said...

This is really interesting. Seriously, a preschool activity? I am also extremely anti-gun. Fortunately, it has not been an issue in our house (yet).
Funny thing is that I just read a blog on this very subject (guns at preschool). The blog is http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/. This is the West Woodland coop preschool teacher. Read his article from August 26. I am still extremely anti-gun- however he does shed a slightly different light on the subject.
You're an awesome mother!

Lisa said...

WOW that is crazy. I would probably be having a chat with the teacher. And it definitely would have been taken away. Though this year I did start allowing water guns so I have softened a bit....

On a side note, Kent teachers went on strike today. No fun at all, hopefully it will be short and productive.

katy said...

As I've read your comments, I've been trying to figure out my motivation for posting about it.

I think I was simply shocked. I don't think you would ever see something like that in America (at least in Seattle's liberal King County where I'm from) Guns and kids and guns has taken on a more serious feel in the U.S. since Columbine and other school shootings. Hasn't it? Playing with guns seems very taboo. It doesn't feel like it's just me, it feels like it is society at large too. Am I off here?

I don't think Little Gym has a violent curriculum or tolerates violence or anything like that. It was just surprising. It really seems taboo. It was an eerie feeling to see all the colored guns lined up in the cubbies ready to be taken home.

I guess I'm wondering how Europeans would view this. Do they have the same "taboos" about kids playing with guns/gun facsimiles. Wondering if it is a "little difference." or just a fluke.

Any Europeans out there care to chime in? I'm curious to learn about how playing with guns is viewed here.

Just Charming said...

I still have mixed feelings about this topic, too. I don't want my 3 year old son to play with them and I don't like him seeing other kids play with them. My husband grew up playing cops & robbers, but these days guns and roll playing seem to be completely different. I think that what you did was completely right on. I would never expect "gym camp" to be a place that would expose kids to guns. What's wrong with them?

poppyart said...

suitably shocked, i say. and worth confiscating... with the least possible fuss if possible. we have a buzz lightyear bubble gun and another which makes noises and flashes - but that is our limit... it has never involved the bang you're dead shooting scenarios. xx

katy said...

Just read the link Susan posted - totally worth a look. Great post and I love his perspective!

Here is the link again -

http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/

Lena said...

Wow- all I can say at first is "wow". Then I move into "very interesting", then back to "wow". I would certainly ask the teachers what the craft was connected to... out of curiosity if not for anything else!

It is so interesting to read all the different opinions. I think I agree that in some ways it is okay to have toy guns (ie. the buzz light year gun or water guns) to dispel the mystery of them (like Rosa said) and to allow for good strong discussion and guidelines about what guns actually are and boundaries.

Still "wow". I would be shocked. I am shocked.

~Bobbi~ said...

That is a weird project for camp? I probably wouldn't have even asked what crafts they were doing because I wouldn't have expected that.

swissluxi said...

I would have done exactly the same thing as you did! And probably even tried to have a conversation with the responsible camp leader.

katy said...

What I meant to say is that guns and SCHOOL is taboo . . . I realize that there are tons of toys that involve guns or shooting either directly or indirectly that are not taboo in many homes. Seems that parents of boys deal with this more than parents of girls.

A mãe da Mafaldinha said...

Feedback from Portugal. Ok, we are at the end of Europe but still aware of the increasing violence levels worldwide. TV gives kids much information and sometimes it makes things look too easy and with no consequence. At most of our schools violence is not incentivated and if a kid tends to be atracted to guns or other violence icons the teachers soon try to distract hem and grow an interest on something else. As latin people whe don't have the cult of fire weapons but we tend to be equaly agressive as other cultures. Maybe the US example on the school massacres as Columbine as make us see the way we are heading and maybe that as made as look at guns in a diferent way. As parents, midle classes and high social classes tend to control the child exposition to violence (as much as we can but we cannot change the world out there!) and don't offer kids gun toys. Video Games ruin all this but we always expect that wen they reach that age they are able to understand the meaning of a video game. Anyway here in Portugal is rather dificult to have a fire arm around the house, maybe that's one good reason for us to keep gun toys at the same basis.

The Smith's said...

I agree with you totally. Im a mon of 4 and a child care provider. My children are not allowed to play with guns. I have had children eat a piece of toast into the shape of a gun! Thats not allowed here. So, in your case, I would have taken it away and talked to the teacher or adult who helped them make this craft. Now, my fmaily does own guns, my husband is a police officer and we hunt (for food!) but playing guns and shooting people is not allowed here. That is just shocking.

suddenly sahm said...

Sigh. My feelings on this are complicated and hard to explain. I think it's strange that they would do it as a school activity. Is that our liberal West Coast background? I don't know.

In terms of the gun thing, I have always been anti-gun and I have fought the good fight. Most boys have agressive fight-like fantasies and they need to be able to express those impulses in a safe environment and not feel judged. The bottom line is that my boys will make a weapon out of ANYTHING. A napkin can find it's way to being a sword or a blaster or a light sabre or a rifle. They don't have toy guns and I don't allow real guns in my house, but over time the blasters and light sabres find a way in to their little lives. I think it's probably most important how you talk to them about it and help them understand it. Don't get me wrong, I would prefer tea parties to wrestlemania, but at some point too you have to let your kids go on their own journeys.

I think if you don't spend a lot of time with boys, it's probably hard to understand.

There is a great essay in this book that describes young boys and agressive violent fantasy play. It is completely developmentally normal. I can't speak to girls' experience except my own and I've never been remotely interested in anything like that.

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Boy-Women-Writers-Raising/dp/B002GJU4TA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251500446&sr=8-5

katy said...

I want to thank you all for such thoughtful and insightful comments. I think the bottom line is that it is a complex issue. It also seems fair to say that parents of boys run up against it much more than parents of girls.

I think S.SAHM has an excellent point in saying that what is most important is how you talk to your kids about this type of play.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment!!

christie said...

I read every comment. What good solid
discussions. I believe it is the conversation about
guns and violence and killing that is the
important thing. Often an incident or event is the opening a parent is hoping for in order to talk about
values and give a child input for good decision
making. I am thinking about the subject of
sex or drugs for older kids which is not always easy
to bring up, but oh, so important.
mom Still, I found a gun as a craft, a shock.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Good to discuss the subject and I came here thanks to Teacher Tom and I agree with his stance.

When we are encouraging violence and guiding children toward violence, that's a problem.

What on earth was the lesson surrounding this?

Kayce said...

Yikes! Not sure what else to say. I would have been very unhappy.

Pink & Green Mama said...

Gone before we even got to the car. An it's obvious that an adult at her camp drew it for her because there is no way a five year old drew that gun.
Wowzers. I'm right with you on this one. I've never allowed the kids to play with guns or have any in the house. On the two occasions that a "water gun" has come home in a birthday party goody bag I toss them into the trash immediately.

Meikoningin said...

European comment here :) I will keep it short as there has been said so much already !

I have no kids of my own but i teach at the local school (6 - 12 year olds) so i do have some experience ;) If i had kids of my own, they would not get toyguns to play with, whoever thought up the combination of toy and gun in the first place ?
What was going on in the camp teachers' minds, is there really nothing else they can up with to have fun with during camp ?
You did the right thing and i would definately contact the teacher(s) involved in the camp to convey my feelings.

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