Tonight, as I was wrapping gifts for my kids, I started to count how many toy guns and gun-related/army-related STUFF my son will be receiving from me and/or Santa Claus (that troublesome old geezer...). It is really rather shocking.
I can just hear the "tsk, tsk-ing" of the non-parents, or the parents of daughters, or the parents of boys who have not yet developed a fascination with the American Military-Industrial Complex. Trust me, throughout the entire course of my life I'm sure I would have been voted "Most Likely to Give Peace A Chance" so the fact that I'm outfitting my son like a miniature Rambo is irony at its highest level.
[Interesting artistic side note: I learned the song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" when I was about 6 or 7 and instantly fell in love with it. I thought it was the most beautiful and meaningful song in the entire world and I've been singing it ever since. As a matter of fact, it was a regular staple of my lullabye repetoire for both my children - including my own little General Patton.]
Here's the big picture, as I see it, however. The key characteristics of my little boy are as follows:
- Yes, he wants to be in the Army when he grows up. But he wants to be a doctor in the army so he won't get shot and so he can help people. (Really - I think he just sees camo as pretty cool - and who can blame him?)
- He is actually quite tenderhearted. During the soccer season, anytime someone would fall down (regardless of what team they were on), he would run over to them (ignoring the coaching and the soccer ball) to make sure they were ok and help them up, if needed.
- He still cuddles with me.
So he might love his guns (and man, if you want to see a happy 5 year old boy, just hang out with us on Christmas Day when he opens his Clone Trooper Blaster) and I know he spends hours setting up his model military planes and toy soldiers just so - but when it comes right down to it, I want him to be true to himself and I don't think there's anything I could do to change his feelings about guns and the army (exept for maybe add a healthy dose of guilt - we moms are pretty good at that, you know). So my philosophy is that we keep emphasizing that real guns are dangerous (and we keep them out of the house, thank you very much) and we don't permit toy guns to be pointed at people, but within those limits - we let him be a boy. Because, after all, he'll have to be a man much too soon.