One of the best things about parenting is realising how different your children are to siblings or other children their own age. Everyone’s child has their quirks, their loves and hates and no two children are the same. Not all girls like to play with dolls and Barbie and not all boys want to dress up as superheroes all the time. In our house this is definitely the case. Miss Roo is not your usual girl. She doesn’t really do Barbie or play with dolls now. She describes her gorgeous wooden Le Toy Van house as her ‘baby toys’ and is much happier playing Transformers, Star Com or Lego (but not Lego Friends as it’s too girly).
So on a recent trip to the post office Roo was asked if she’d like to choose one of the £1 toys as she’d been good during the week. These are the sort of toys I remember my newsagent selling; sheriff sets, hair clips for dolls, army men and rubber dart guns. I knew instantly which one she’d pick – the dart gun.
She’d been after a gun for a while, it would be the perfect accompaniment to her pirate outfit and great for swashbuckling on the high seas. I thought nothing of it after all it’s a gun that fires plastic safety darts with suckers on the end, it’s not like I’d bought her a replica 9mm!
Paying for the toy gun at the till raised a few eyebrows from the grey hair brigade and one comment of “I wouldn’t think a toy gun is an appropriate toy for a child”. But in a world where today children see violence, hear about tragedy and gun crime is escalating is it wrong and inappropriate parenting to buy your child a toy gun? In today’s society, it is difficult to shield a child from expressions and acts of violence, whether they come from television shows, video games or even older siblings and friends.
So far she’s shot her McDonald’s toys after they got out of control at the picnic, she attempted to shoot mummy for delivering tea late and we’ve made a target ring for her bedroom. As far I know she’s not held up any local shops, attempted a drive by on her Micro Scooter or held the grandparents to ransom for more pocket money.
Instead are we not better to adopt from the outset an open door policy on talking about guns. This doesn’t mean scaring them to death with guns will kill people but one thing we’ve done is emphasise that guns are not for playing with and toy guns like the ones we have are for role play games like cowboys and for playing superheroes with. We also try to make sure that the toy guns we do have look like toy guns with Miss Roo. She has a water pistol gun that is so bright you need shades when playing with it and the toy gun we bought at the shop has a disco handle – not your average handle choice it has to be said.
All in all we don’t dismiss that guns are dangerous and they can hurt people in the real world, but in the context we’re using them in for play and family fun they are nothing more than another child’s toy and no worse than some of the hideously fabricated girls dolls on the high street. My logic is, introduce your child to guns before the world of rappers, music videos and the news do because at least this way you can make sure they have the right facts.