When it comes to my kids’ choices of toys, I’ve tried to stay open. That is until the first time I saw my son make a gun out of his fingers, make shooting noises with his mouth, and proclaim that I was dead. When it comes to shooting games and toy guns I’ve never been very open-minded, but all my 6-year-old son seemed to want to play were games involving action and killing. Quite frankly, it worried me. I figured his choices of games must mean he’s dark or even weird.
So my husband and I did everything we could to minimize our son’s newfound fascination with heroes, action, and shooting. We limited our son’s access to shooting video games and we tried to make sure he and his friends weren’t playing killing games, even if pretend. We winced anytime he’d come home from school with a story about a guy, “getting blown up” and we’d have long conversations anytime he’d play a game that involved pretend killing or shooting. To me death, dying, and killing seemed dark. It’s not how I wanted my son to play.
Then I noticed that my son wasn’t the only one. All the boys his age seemed to have the same fascination with blowing each other up and shooting each other dead. They liked to take on different roles, with some being the good guy and other taking on the role of the bad guy. They’d shoot each other then start again with a different kid being the one that died. And they’d stage very dramatic deaths scenes worthy of an Academy Award. Suddenly, I saw my son and his friends as little actors, creating the most dramatic plot twists with endings worthy of Shakespeare.
I realized my kid wasn’t fascinated with death. He was fascinated with stories. And every story needs a dramatic ending. What’s more dramatic than an intense battle followed by a death scene?
I’ve stopped being concerned my son is dark, weird, strange, or that he has a violent future ahead of him. He’ll grow out of his fascination with shooting and move on to something new. Until then, we’re still not allowing toy guns in our house and we’re still limiting violent video games. But if my son and his friends want to create elaborate plots with twists and turns, I’m okay with that.
And the next time my kid pretend shoots me, I won’t be so alarmed. In fact, I’ll be ready. I’ve been practicing my death scene for days and it’s really, really good.