There is a sound that fills our house that will be familiar to most parents of boys: Ptchou! Ptchou! The sound of lasers blasting (or perhaps gunfire for those low-tech households). Bug is currently addicted to the Toy Story 3 video game and has recently unlocked the Zorg blaster gun. He runs through town blasting everything in sight and shouting, “Ptchou! Ptchou!” But for some reason that was not enough. We decided that this would be a great weekend to introduce the kids to the original Star Wars trilogy. Now both kids are running amok shooting at things (generally robbers).
I am, for the most part, a non-violent person, so none of this (including the light sabers they just received from my trip to the Lucasfilm press preview) sits comfortably with me. Still, I believe that this type of roll play is age appropriate. I wielded more than one light saber in my childhood and I turned out ok. The kids are influenced heavily by their classmates at school and have been shooting at things for the past year and half, despite the lack of violent toys/media in their daily lives. Since it’s nearly impossible to stop the shooting, I have decided to embrace some of it and take the opportunity to talk with them about real vs. pretend violence. They’re too young to fully understand, but I hope it’s a message they grow into over time.
As I write this, Bug is “shooting robots” with his light saber (apparently the Toy Story 3 video game holds more influence than Star Wars) while Lady Bug is using hers as a vacuum. And, as she straps on her good party shoes, she declares herself to be “the bad guy.” There is something twisted about the whole scene, but at least I have a sense of humor about it. We still prefer not to have play weapons that mimic real-life weaponry (guns, swords, knives, etc.), but my kids are stretching their imaginations and engaging in active play. There are worse ways to spend a childhood summer day.