We're knee-deep in our study of the Civil War, so it's really no surprise that our house has become a battlefield. As the mother of two boys, you'd think that I would have been expecting this all along.
I haven't. I am one of those slightly batty moms who still clings to the hope that my boys will somehow skim the surface of the shoot-em-up stage. DH and I have denied our sons actual toy guns, choosing the wimpy way out--we have allowed swords, bows and arrows, plastic cowboys and Indians, and little green soldiers toting more artillery than the guys in Iraq probably get to play with. Maybe this, we said to ourselves, will give a little direction to their clearly war-like play for a little while, and then they'll move on to something else. Like horticulture.
All of this has done nothing but fan the flames. We knew it probably would, but still ... neither dh nor I can stomach the idea of buying anything that resembles a gun for our children to play with. Thankfully, our boys have friends. And birthdays. And, as all parents know, the equation looks something like this: boy's age>4 + friend + birthday party = guns. Most of these items have been tame compared to the "KILL 'EM ALL!!!" bazookas that grace the shelves of most mainstream toy stores, but Atticus and Logan were thrilled to receive them.
Even though they now have a slim arsenal to pull from, the boys' main fascination is still with reenacting full-scale wars. And despite not having seen anything more violent than the old black and white "Lone Ranger" television series, Logan and Atticus are perfectly capable of setting up a rather elaborate field of death. Lincoln Log cannons, Lego trees and some cleverly contrived civilian homes are staged all over my family room. And who can forget the marble bombs, modeled after the pirate battle in "Swiss Family Robinson"? Complete with slain and wounded warriors, of course.
Studying the Civil War has given more of a plot line to their bloody battles. Now, I watch in near-horror as my 5 and 7 year-olds line up green Army guys and try to decide who is in charge of the Blue and who commands the Gray. They don't seem to necessarily have a preference; this is probably my fault, since I insisted that all of my children learn both "My Old Kentucky Home" and "Dixie." At any rate, casualties seem to plague both sides equally. At least I can console myself that they understand that war means some boys aren't ever going home again.
I have fully surrendered to the fact that it actually is impossible to keep testosterone-fueled boys from their desire to exact (pretend) violence on other people. I'm not saying that I understand it, I'm not saying that I like it, and I'm not saying that I let my boys indulge in it from sun up to sundown. What I am saying is that the drive is there, and it must be satisfied in some way. At least it is tempered by other interests. Neither Atticus nor Logan focuses on war all the time. They each enjoy reading, board games, sports, drawing and building with various mediums. This tells me that they are fairly well-rounded. I guess they just need a little mock bloodshed to rub off the edges now and then.