Boys and their toys

This week my son brought home his first stick-figure drawing. I was so proud that he finally mastered some kind of art. Alex excels at many things, but art is not one of them. So in the car we were talking about the drawing, which also has his name at the bottom. (See picture) He informed me this was a picture of him holding a gun. What???

Shocked by this statement. I had to interrogate him some more. Apparently, he was drawing himself, shooting a bad guy. (See 'bad guy' on the left). I asked if he had told his teacher this, and he said he had. Great, now I’m the mom of the kid who’s talking about guns. Scandalized by this, I called my husband. His reaction was not quite as severe as mine. He reassured me that he was a three-year-old boy, and his artwork did not reflect poorly on us or him. He was just a boy.

Where talk of guns once was boys being boys, now it’s a teacher’s reason to suspect something crazy. A friend of my husband, a former marine, has a school-aged son. He was drawing pictures of army guys and guns during art class. A note came home with the boy instructing that he no longer draw these kinds of pictures at school or he would be expelled.

When is it just boys being boys? When is it OK for kids to express themselves? When it is not OK? I’m guessing at three probably most things are harmless. Alex hangs around older kids who do lots of “hunting the bad guys” so I surmise this came from them. We don’t talk about guns at home, even if my husband is a card-carrying member of the NRA. We don’t have TV where my kids could be exposed to this, and the DVDs they do watched are highly censored by mom and dad. But I’m trying not to react too much to this or he may draw more of these pictures. Ugh. (Why do I know this won't be the last time?)

But in recent days, I’ve seen slippage of guns into Alex’s play. One day the PB&J sandwich was formed into a gun shaped, followed by “pchew pchew” sounds from Alex. Another day, he turned a bathtub boat around to make it look like a gun. He told me he was playing and shooting bad guys. He asked if Anna was the bad guy. I said no. He asked if I was. I said no. So he turned and shot the wall. This morning, he turned his toy wrench into a gun by putting a sock over it. Again, he was chasing bad guys. Perhaps my question to him should be “who are these bad guys he needs to shoot.” But we have noticed a difference in him exploring good vs. evil in many different contexts so perhaps this is where the verbiage comes from.

I’m hoping this is all part of some ingrained male behavior. You know, the whole fighter/hunter thing. In contrast, my daughter is really into dolls and playing kitchen. Should I react to that as well? For now, I’ll just be proud of my kid’s artwork which looks somewhat recognizable. :-)


Anonymous said...


purplemommy said...

We are a "no gun" household and I also have been mystified by my son's fascination with the gun. One day he made one with legos, I think. I reminded him about the no guns rule and he gave me a quizzical look and said "Mommy, it's just pretend. It's not a REAL gun."

Nicole said...

I am the mother of 3 boys and my oldest (4) is always making "gun" and shooting bad guys. Of course, my middle son (21/2) who thinks his brother hangs the moon shoots bad guys too with his make believe gun. They love to make guns out of mega blocks. I am a no gun household. My children have never and will never have play guns. They don't watch much tv. I am not sure where they learn all this but I think it is just the way they are wired.

Anna D said...

As my son was yelling "I shoot him and kill him" while looking at a magazine of a bad guy, I quickly googled "Boys shoot and guns" and got your blog :). In fact, it is kinda nice to see Evan is not the only one who does this.He is a gentle soul. NEver gets into fights at the playground and never shoves or pushes. Currently he is yelling "evil evil man I shoot you." The more I tell him to stop the more he does it. HE has never even SEEN a gun for Pete's sake. For now we just have to ignore it I suppose and hope they don't turn out trigger happy.
-ANNA from Canada