Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guns & Halloween

I couldn't believe my eyes, but there was one of my neighbors, a 7-year-old boy, dressed in khaki like a solider stationed in Iraq. And slung over his should was a machine gun. That he pointed at people.

I understand that gun play is a normal part of childhood, but can we at least require some imagination if we're going to allow it? Why do we have to go to the nth degree to be realistic? Light sabers, swords, wands I can handle; their power is something we have to think up (well, not so much with swords, but how often do you see those?) Machine guns are real and frightening images a lot of kids have to deal with daily in war-torn areas. But this is not one of them. So why bring it in? I suppose that children of service members might see this as normal and honorable. But it still gives me the willies.

I said nothing during the big community gathering and had almost forgotten about it until he came to my door. And then I muttered something like, "Wow, that gun makes me uncomfortable. Please point it down." Later, an older kid with a leather jacket outfit had a big gun, too, and he got something more like, "I have a little kid and I don't like him to see guns. Maybe you can rethink that next year" before I added a cheerily contradictory, "But have a good night!"

I couldn't let these images go, but I know my comments probably didn't do any good and maybe just made me seem like a grump. So be it. I just wonder what the parents are thinking by letting this go so public. It's one thing to let kids glorify violence in your own home or to just plain let them pick up sticks and do whatever with them. Fine. Kids need to act out the whole range of human emotions and impulses. That's healthy.

But bringing a fake machine gun to the community playground after a parade where there are babies and toddlers? Can't we wait until after dark? Why is this okay?

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