Parenting Fail or Am I Overeacting?

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?

2 comments to Parenting Fail or Am I Overeacting?

  • At this age I still don’t allow toy guns or swords. For some weird reason I bought K a very small toy ax to go with his “Scary Monster / Cat” costume this year and then when he declared that he didn’t like it, I was happy because I was wondering just what the hell I was thinking. So the ax is now gone bye-bye.

    The difference between vampires and werewolves and terrorist/criminal costumes is that the first are stories and don’t exist while the second are all too real. I wouldn’t allow my pre-teen to wear that kind of costume so I certainly would not allow a 3rd grader to either. It also sounds like those kids needed a stern talking to about appropriate behaviour in general…but then I’m a total hard-ass.
    .-= Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)´s last blog ..Red Tree- Wednesday of Few Words =-.

  • My father’s a competitive marksman, and for years ran a gun repair business out of a workshop in the back yard. Memories of my childhood are sprinkled with vignettes that involve firearms of various kinds.

    But never, ever toy guns. My parents, my dad especially, were adamant that guns are NOT TOYS. They are not to be played with under any circumstances. I was taught at a very early age how to handle real firearms correctly and safely. But I wasn’t ever allowed to play even with water guns.

    In an urban environment, guns mean something entirely different than they did in the small town where I grew up, and where hunting was popular. In a school, the layers of meaning need to be thought about even more carefully.

    As someone who grew up with guns around me every day, I find those costumes disturbing.
    .-= Alexis´s last blog ..Things That Are True – Lost Children =-.