We live in Darth times

One real concern I’ve had lately is: What are we going to tell the boys about guns? I don’t want to ban any exploration of weaponry altogether, and turn out one of those happy little obsessive collectors, gleefully showing his old hippie parents his cool new Uzi and vintage, mint-condition hand grenade.

So for now, my policy is that The Elder can pretend he has a gun sometimes, if he really has to, but that is not how we solve our problems. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah, blah. Blah!

I’ve duly informed him I won’t buy him a toy gun, ever, but somehow have conceded he can have a lightsaber someday, presumably because, well, I’m confused, and I was into “Star Wars” as a kid. Yeah, this isn’t consistent, but I also don’t want to drive him underground with his very normal urge, developmentally speaking, to find out what guns are.

Who knew a gun could be harmful without even touching one? The kid’s desire to play with a fake one is enough to make my head explode.

And what is going on with “Star Wars” these days? Like most boys’ parents, I’ve dutifully sent my 4-year-old off to preschool, apparently to be indoctrinated into the Lucasfilm cult. They trudge in wearing Spider-Man sneakers, and come out as miniature followers of Darth Maul, or some guy named Rex, without ever having seeing a single bit of the film series. Or so most parents say.

I know my kid hasn’t actually seen the stuff, so there has to be a huge element of 4-year-old male folklore going on. I just wish these other parents who think it’s OK for a kid to see “Star Wars” at 16 months would stick to the original films. I assumed Jar-Jar Binks and I had parted ways in 1999.

Lego has apparently decided to make “Star Wars” seem all safe and innocuous for young kids by putting sweet faces on the characters — “Aw, look, it’s baby Lord Vader!” — but they left them armed to the teeth. See, it’s OK to kill everyone in the Empire if you do it in a Muppet Babies-like version of a Rebel uniform! That makes it nice.

Yes, in the video games, they do show the characters being merely punched into piles of meaningless Lego bricks, but still: Killin’ is killin.’

And little boys know that.

As far as violence goes, the best I can guess is that we need to deal with this preschool bloodlust like it’s medieval times. Killing took some effort then, more thought than just pulling a trigger or waving a big laser stick. Or let’s even look back before the Bronze Age, before real weapons, so we don’t have to deal with the kids poking their eyes out with fake arrowheads.

And, hey, the murder rates were low then. Killing was just too hard.

“Well, son, if you’re going to be play hero, you’ll need to use this toy rock, and a mace, and then be back at our post-and-lintel hut before sundown. Hunt and gather a few roots and grubs for snack, splash a bit more blood on that great cave painting — good job! I like the way you used the red hemoglobin for the bunny!

“And send a smoke signal if you’re going to be late. Good luck with the fake bludgeoning! “

–Jillian O’Connor

What are your thoughts on kids wielding toy weapons?

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