This afternoon Lauren and i were eating lunch in the park/playground in our apartment complex when three boys, maybe 6, 7 and 8 years old, maybe brothers, came running through the playground with little cap-guns shooting at each other. They weren't playing Cops and Robbers, or Cowboys and Indians (regardless of its lack of policital correctness). They weren't even acting out a scene from a movie. They were just shooting at each other. The guns made that cap-gun snappping noise, were shiney and silver in color, and even spewed a small amount of smoke when fired. The boys shouted things like "I still have 6 bullets" , "Im gonna shoot you." and cried "ouch" when the other boys shot at them.
Lauren and I stopped eating and watched them "play" with our mouths hanging open, horrified. This wasn't a game, the goal was to shoot and kill, but it was clear none of them understood the seriousness of their actions. I wonder, in this relatively quiet Maryland suburb, why playing with cap-guns was an acceptable Sunday activity. The other day I blogged about the Boy Scouts as evil empire, training boys to align bravery and service with intolerance...but theres so much more to raising kids to be good human beings.
I'm unsure if I'll ever have kids--because i realize the challenge of doing so. The importance and difficulty of being a good parent. There are endless decisions that don't seem harmful (boy scouts and cap-guns to start) but every decision a parent makes sculpts the way their kids treat others and treat themselves. Kudos to good parents out there for trying to raise kids with good minds and good hearts.
For parents of kids playing with cap-guns in the suburbs, think about what it means when kids become accustomed to violent behavior, when shooting a gun yeilds no real consequences, and when you are willing to pull the trigger while aiming a fake-gun at your own brother. Think about what happens to kids when the don't think thats a big deal.
Here I am acting as moral authority. I dont mean to be, it just really makes me nervous to see that kinda thing going on. Thats why i try to stick with my original personal dedication to cats, not kids.