As I wrote yesterday Aidan’s school had a Halloween carnival on Friday night. There was a ton of fun for all ages and there were kids from babies to grade 7’s there. Most of the costumes on both the kids and adults were great. There were a bunch of animals, fairies, character, knights and some blood, but not too much. Most of the older kids were great and didn’t get in the little kids way, or go out of there way to scare the little ones. Some even were taking little siblings around. All great.
The three kids who did make me and Anthony really uncomfortable were a group of three boys around grade three age. These three boys were wearing fatigues, balaclavas over their faces and pretend machine guns. Everytime they passed us and bumped into someone I looked, paused and thought how inappropriate are these costumes?
In a time where kids have shot kids at schools, how appropriate is it for kids to carry fake guns while their faces are covered in a balaclava? Is it any more inappropriate than kids dressed at a Jedi or a Transformer? What about a vampire or a zombie? Why did these costumes give me such a creepy bad feeling? Why did it make me so uncomfortable?
When Anthony and I posted about the costumes on twitter the response was a little divided. Most thought that if it hadn’t been Halloween the guns, pretend or not, wouldn’t have been allowed at school. Some thought that the kids were just playing a role that they have been playing for thousands of years. That stuck with me and I thought, well, is that part of the human race’s problem? If we let violence and aggression be play time, it is healthy or harmful? Is this why we have so many bullies in schools?
I guess that is what made me most uncomfortable about the costumes that these boys were wearing. Yes the costumes themselves weren’t a good idea in my opinion, but the way the boys were acting in the costumes was worse. The pointing of the guns and the aggressive way they were pushing into lines and going around the school really bothered me. Having them pretend to shoot my sons and the kids around gave me a sick feeling.
I am not saying that these particular kids are bad kids or aggressive kids on the playground, but if we let kids behave this way when masked, what are we modeling for them?
This issue is something I struggle with raising my boys. Aidan loves police officers and he has a police helmet, but he does NOT have a pretend gun. We don’t even have water guns and while I let Aidan play with them at his grandparents I have mixed feelings on whether or not it is a good idea.
Are toy guns of any ilk approprite toys in your opinion? Are toy swords different?