I was at Target yesterday looking for some fun outdoor summer toys for Annabel. I figure that even if we don’t get the house (which, yeah, we still don’t know omg), she’ll use outdoor stuff at the park, the beach, in backyards we break into, etc. I came across a whole summertime bundle full of sand toys and balls and such, so I bought it. When I got home, I opened up the bundle and discovered there was a squirt gun. It had been tucked into a sand pail.
Here’s the thing – I wasn’t allowed to play with guns growing up. Guns of ANY kind. That meant no squirt guns, cap guns, or Nintendo Zapper (a real shame, because I had a natural ability at Duck Hunt). My father was a police officer and we were always taught guns aren’t toys. I think we heard that expression at least 187,000 times. It was an important lesson since there were guns in our house (although they were always locked away). The message was so ingrained that when I pulled the squirt gun out of the bundle I thought, “omigosh a gun, I hope my dad doesn’t find out.”
This is funny to me because when I was a kid I swore up and down that I would let my kids play with toy guns. I wasn’t gonna be a mean old mommy! But now I have mixed feelings. Obviously, the lesson that guns aren’t toys is imperative, but some toys just happen to be shaped like guns. So where do I draw the line? Do I say only toy guns when I’m there to supervise? Or what if I say no toy guns at all, and then she plays with them at a friends’ house anyway (not to say *I* ever did that, no sir). I don’t want to make the forbidden attractive.
In addition to worrying about safety, there’s also the issue of whether playing with guns makes children desensitized to violence, and more prone to being violent. I’ve never been fond of the kid who points a toy gun in my face and then laughs when I ask them not to. That’s just…creepy.
Annie is still too young to grasp any of this, and definitely too young for me to let her play with a squirt gun, mostly because I know she’ll just squirt me all day and ruin my hair. But it’s summer and she’s going to be around water toys, including squirt guns, so I guess I have to come to some sort of conclusion on this soon just so I am consistent. But I have no idea what that conclusion should be.
Also, I don’t want Annie to be almost 32 and bitter about stifled Duck Hunt talent.