Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pretending With the Enemy: Mom’s “Shock and Awe” Blitz Against War Toys (and other pretend weapons that pretend kill and pretend maim)


Before I unleash the anti-gun toy beast, let's begin slow, easy and unloaded, shall we, with a short excerpt from Toy Story (1995):

Buzz: Right now, poised at the edge of the galaxy, Emperor Zurg has been secretly building a weapon with the destructive capacity to annihilate an entire planet! I alone have information that reveals this weapon's only weakness. And you, my friend, are responsible for delaying my rendezvous with Star Command!

Woody: [pauses and looks incredulous] YOU. ARE. A. TO-YYYYY! You aren't the real Buzz Lightyear! You're - you're just an action figure! [holds hand up to eyes indicating something small]

Woody: You are a child's play-thing!

Buzz: You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity. Farewell.

Woody: Oh, yeah? Well, good riddance, ya loony.


Now that we've shared that little kid-friendly, warm n' fuzzy, apocalyptic Disney vignette, onto my verbal assault on gun toys ...

Guns (and other “weapons with the destructive capacity to annihilate the entire planet”) lurk in the most peculiar places in my testosterone dominated house: beneath hot pink Play-doh lids; crumpled within wadded up tin foil sculptures; and even within the kosher Matzo cracker pantry stash.

Pretend guns, that is. Pretend guns that can and will be made from anything.

The kind of guns conjured from my 5- and 3-year-old sons’ (innately?) bellicose imaginations. The kind of guns patched together from anything and everything their grubbing “aggro” boy paws manage to scavenge from daddy’s (unwisely easy-access) tool box and mom’s (foolishly unlocked) kitchen junk drawer.

If you too have young (quasi-destructive) sons, I need not waste another keystroke because you already know of what I lambaste.

Mothers of nearly all men-to-be, you no doubt already intimately know the enemy I’m about to open fire at -- toy guns and all other pretend weapons… What are they good for? Absolutely nothin’! No, I won’t say it again.

I’ll leave rest of my bad song reference refrain up to you, the parent, the final authority on what kinds of toys your children ready, aim and pretend fire into each other’s faces.

The kind of guns over at the Domestic Slackstress homestead are sculpted, twisted and bitten from from Play-doh, tin foil and oversized Matzo crackers. All stealthily improvised on the fly so as not to attract the time-out appointing powers of peace-preaching mama me. (Just when you prayed I’d have enough journalistic sense to hold myself back from starting yet another sentence with “The kind of guns … “ Oh, the grammatical knavery that occurs when one trades the newsroom for the three-child romper room!)

When and if I’m in a good mood, the only kind of gun that I EVER allow in my house without exception must be one of the aforementioned Bored Child Improvised Firearm Devices (BCIFDs). You know, Play-doh, tin foil, etc. And at no time are they allowed to be pointed at wet blanket me.

Now, before you get all vigilante justice on me and forward this post ASAP to Child Services, stop yourself from clicking “send” and let me clarify. I ABSOLUTELY, CATEGORICALLY REFUSE TO ALLOW MY CHILDREN TO PLAY WITH MANUFACTURED TOY GUNS!!!

You can uncover your ears now; I promise I’m through screaming. (I can’t guarantee follow through on that same promise with my three apparently attention starved kids, who right now are busy taking tag-team turns drive-by pecking the very keyboard I’m trying to spell out my anti-war toy essay on at the moment.)


But I'm not yet ready to dismount from my parental soap box.

Pretend firearms are nonnegotiable at the casa di Domestic Slackstress. Homie don’t play ‘dat, as I tell my sons. Strictly no packin' heat 'round these parts.

Did I mention that I’m a hypocrite because I allow my children to play with plastic and wooden swords and daggers? Somehow I feel these items are less aggressive, less violent than firearms, right up until my daughter levels one at warp speed against the skull of her brother.

Come back soon for Parts 2 and 3 to hear about:

- why the hell I’m such a militant psycho freak mom about banning gun/war toys from my home in the first place
- the weak warring few weeks when I caved and let my boys enjoy a brief but dismally failed trial period with gun toys
- how I no-hassle, no-guilt handle (um, dispose of, duh) gun toy birthday and Christmas gifts
- what my 5-year-old son proposes should blast from the barrels of guns in the direction of disadvantaged people instead of bullets while impressively attempting to manipulate me into lifting my ban on pretend weapon toys
- my would-be fighter pilot husband’s polar opposite position on pretend weapons and gun toys (“I grew up on war toys and fearing the Russians, and I’m not a psycho-killer!”)
- photos from my husband’s recently unpacked circa 1980s beloved G.I. Joe ammo and "bad guy" soldier stash (Why, oh, why must he do this to me?)
- photos from our family’s retired toy weapon cemetery/cache (Don’t worry, honey. I promise I won’t trash your machine gun wielding G.I. Joe guys.)
- a complete list of ideal-perfect-world, peace-loving hippie freak toys I wish my kids would dig as much as I do (Only I would regard a flimsy pillowcase emblazoned with a glow-in-the-dark Love Mother Earth logo as a toy. Now how can I get my kids to too?)
- the super-soaking sordid details of my on-again-off-again love-hate affair with water guns
- how you too can fashion an AK-47 from a kosher Matzo cracker (I’m in trouble on this one, huh? No harm nor offense meant.)
- and much, much more useless anti-gun-toy minutia that you’ll neither have time nor patience to endure without perhaps gesturing your fingers into the shape of a pretend gun and pretend shooting yourself in the head!

Until Part 2 ... Don’t even get me started on violent TV!


If you are anything like me, you often acquire ammo to bolster your argument by familiarizing yourself with opposing viewpoints. If you're nodding in well-informed, balanced research agreement, then read this sharply-written "violence is a reality" article titled Annihilating Boy Toys: Peace On Earth = No Fun for Sons.

Also, thank you Code Pink and Another Mother for Peace for the anti-war/anti-gun toy images used in the post. It has been my pleasure to march alongside you at recent peace demonstrations. Hope to meet up with you ladies soon.

Like you have the time, busy mamas ... but if you do have a kid-free split second, please check out Code Pink's Five Great Ideas & Actions to Say No to War Toys. Why not read it to your kids if they are old enough (to hate you for gleefully chucking their toy guns in the trash)?


At 7:38 AM, Blogger mad muthas said...

mmmmm - you're beautiful when you're angry!
my son too bit his slice of morning toast into a gun shape and proceeded to threaten us all with marmalade one memorable breakfast ... when he was about 3.
i have a theory - yes, i'm sorry ... another one - that guns and guitars have a phallic significance to boys ... which is why they are so drawn to both. girls just don't get this and, therefore, neither play with guns nor guitars (well hardly). just don't think too much about why girls so love pressing the buttons of their mobile phones!!!!!!!!!

At 9:44 AM, Blogger scribbit said...

I've always felt exactly as you did but lately as my boys have grown and have found ways to make their own guns (toys, i.e. from wood scraps and stuff) I've marveled at how the gun thing seems to be an inbred male trate. I've wondered if I've been too strong in my opposition of the firearm debate and if I should just let them have their creative play. This doesn't mean I'm buying them guns or ammo or letting the relatives do it either. But I've backed off a lg!ittle bit. So when Spencer comes up from his pounding in the garage and shows me his MacGuyver-esque rubber band gun he made from scratch I'm okay with it.

But then I also worry that I'm getting tired and worn out and am slacking off. Sigh. Isn't parenthood hard? You never know if you're doing the right thing until 20 years later.

Thanks so much for an thought-provoking article. I always like hearing what someone else's opinion is and if it's working for them.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Lucia said...

Yeah for you. I'm cheering! Stay on that soapbox and stick to your guns (er, or your lack thereof).

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

You da' mom, Lucia! Thanks for the encouragement.

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank! You! Amen and hallelujah! And on the violent tv tip-why the hell is it that parents let their 3-year-olds watch shows like Teen Titans and Power Rangers? Do they think it makes them cooler?

We don't do the guns in our house. Not even water guns (which did give me some pause-I mean, they're water guns! But still guns, so, no.) We don't do fake swords or knives either, but that's more out of a "you don't need something ELSE to hit your sister in the head with" mentality.

My bottom line is that if it's main focus and purpose is hurting others/violence (like guns and Power Rangers)-it's not welcome in my house.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Thailand Gal said...

It seems to me there must be a healthier way for young boys to get rid of their aggression. (Denying it won't do much good. It's there... ) It seems that martial arts, vigorous exercise or sports should be sufficient. Why continue on this idiotic cultural edict of us/them, might over right, warmongering nonsense?

I'm with ya, 100%! I wish more moms felt the same.

Thailand Gal


At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Jenny said...

Interesting post. I don't have to think about it that much since my little girl is more interested in dolls but I remember my boy cousins making guns out of everything possible. They made weapons all day long it seemed.

They probably would have made good prison inmates.

At 7:47 PM, Blogger jen said...

oh, sister. profoundly and absolutely, yes.

I couldn't agree more. and as we are all responsible for the next generation, we need to stand up (sit in, love in?) for what we know is right.


At 7:55 PM, Blogger mad_hatter said...

You think toy guns are scary? How about real ones? I wrote a post about the Canadian Armed Forces open house that happened in my downtown this past August. I still feel ill thinking about it.

Now back to my daughter who just learned the word "pink". "Pink, pink, pinky, pink." Nope, can't be nature, must be nurture. Sheesh.

At 2:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as an older person, who has been there, done that, boys and girls will always play fight, think back to the days of the fifties when cowboys and indians were the in thing. I beleive that it is not what they play, but the attitude of the family aboout play guns and real guns.The majority of children will grow up and have a healthy respect for guns and violence and it is only the few who go wrong that we hear about.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger jchevais said...

I agree on the guns (which I don't allow in my house).

I agree on the swords (which I do).

I don't think you are a hypocrite.

Historically, with swords, you needed to see the whites of the eyes of your opponent in order to use it "effectively". This meant that it was one to one. You needed to be in each others space. I think it is healthier to realise that and respect it. It also helps that because it is an historical weapon, kids are not likely to find any real ones lying around.

Guns are another matter. As a Canadian, I still don't understand why the right to bear firearms part of the american constitution hasn't been amended....

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

I don't know....I grew up playing cowboys and indians and japs and commandoes and still managed to realize as I grew that these were politically incorrect and learned about REAL war (thank you tv news!)(thank you my entire UK family that fought in WW2).

I played with my cousins Action Men (GI Joes) and went nuts ack acking across the parks...

I LOVED being a cowboy..had a Colt 45 toy guy and this amazing toy rifle we found on the beach!

Again, we are all pretty much peace loving, anti war and non hunting and non gun toting folks.

Maybe because we grew up in a country where owning a gun is NOT a right.... I don't has just seemed less of an issue.

We don't have any gun toys here EXCEPT the water guns (apart from the one's for a cowboy halloween costume and those were put away with the costume)....but it is mainly because my son has not shown an interest in them really....he only picks up ideas about it when he plays with older siblings of friends....he doesn't get it yet though.

And as you have pointed are totally anti gun and look what the kids do...they MAKE em.

I think it is better to teach things about WHY guns are bad or WHY it isn't a good thing to pretend and let the kids learn and figure out the bigger issues as they grow instead of fighting against, what really seems to be nature amongst many boys.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Ariztophanes said...

Sheez, you guys.

Let the boys play with guns. SOMEBODY has got to be ready to kill. Do you think the little terrorist boys grow up playing with toy suicide vests, or IEDs?

I hope you little guys (like this little guy was/is) are willing to help defend western civilization, or we're all going to hell.

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