Friday 26 April 2013


I'm not sure how, in two short weeks, I've gone from posting about flowers to posting about fighting- such is motherhood I guess!
Actually I picked today's theme because it was St George's Day this week and the boys were allowed to dress up accordingly to celebrate. It occurred to me that it was an unusual break from what is considered appropriate, that they should suddenly be encouraged to bring weapons to school and to celebrate someone killing something (albeit foam swords and a dragon.) That's kind of how it is with violence. In principle I would love the boys never to have a violent thought, our house to be weapon-free and for the whole world to live in peace and harmony, but it aint like that. These things creep in and I'm not sure that you can fight it (pardon the pun.)
A case in point is guns.  Up until last year the only toy gun we had in the house was a tiny machine gun that had come in amongst a box of hand-me-down toys and probably once belonged to an action man. Zac in his innocence thought it was a drill and went around happily fixing things with it, and we did nothing to disillusion him.
Although we hadn't made a definite no-gun policy, I was very happy to avoid them. It's not a pleasant thing to see your little darling holding a violent weapon and shouting "bang, bang you're dead!" However, our kids are not isolated from the world. Inevitably, one day they went to a friend's house and discovered the joy of nerf guns. Danny in particular was completely enthralled. The little gang of them charged around the garden shooting each other, hiding to ambush their foe and leaping out with great battle cries. They had a ball. Danny announced the only thing he wanted for his fourth birthday was a nerf gun. Hmmmm. Reader, I caved in!
I did read quite a lot of opinions on the subject. Some, like this one, reassured me that it wasn't the end of the world: . Plus I have to confess, I could see the attraction. They are fun, exciting and they are an outside-and-active activity. In fact, although we initially got one for each of the boys, Daddy was so bad at waiting for his turn that we had to get a third for him to join in.
Nerf wars with Daddy.
There are some rules. We don't shoot people where it hurts. We don't shoot people who don't want to be shot. We don't talk about killing. The guns are brightly coloured TOYS, not replicas of a real thing, and the pellets are also soft and colourful. I'd rather they were running around the garden shooting toy guns than sitting infront of a screen simulating the real thing. OK, I'll stop justfying the decision now.
I wonder if I'd feel differently if we lived in the US. I feel thankful every time there's another tragedy in the news that we live somewhere where we'd never consider having a real gun in the house, and where the debate about arming people in schools seems utterly inconceivable.
Ouch! A plastic sword hurts!
So yes, the boys fight. Not just with guns. When they are knightly, they have sword fights. Initially this was with plastic swords but they soon discovered that if you get hit you get hurt, so we only do slow-motion fighting with those and use foam ones if we really want to whack each other.
Similarly, they fight with light sabres, but know that if they hit each other hard the light sabre breaks so it's better to do choreographed fighting with the "proper" ones and use lengths of foam pipe insulation instead for a full on battle between the Jedi and the Dark Side!

Snowball fight!
I don't think this kind of fighting is a problem. Role-playing different characters and being physically active in this way seems natural to young boys and I don't believe it is in any way preparing them to be violent or agressive in the future. However if it doesn't sit right, there are other "fights" that are also fun and active and perhaps have less violent connotations. The boys love a full-on pillow fight, they think having a water fight is absolute heaven, they regularly wrestle with each other and with Daddy, and if it snows...

Of course, they also FIGHT. They are siblings. It happens.
My new brother... friend or foe?
When I was expecting son 2 one of my greatest fears was that they might not get on. I read quite a lot about sibling rivalry and the optimum age gap between siblings (although it was a bit too late to do anything about that!) I'd taught siblings who were close enough in age to end up in the same class in our little village school, and knew that they could be really unkind to each other. I pictured years of being the referee in a war zone.
Zac was 19 months when Danny was born, and I followed the advice and made sure that I wasn't holding the baby when he arrived to visit us in the hospital ward and that the baby had a lovely present for him in his crib. I confess, I thought Zac was probably too young to appreciate any of this but there was no harm in the baby making a good first impression. I also let him "help" with the baby and hold him as much as I could bear in the early days.
These are your ears...
Danny was a very demanding baby. He cried A LOT. In fact it felt like he cried pretty much non-stop for the first 7 months. Zac was amazingly tolerant. He hardly seemed to notice that Danny was constantly screaming. He chatted to him about this and that in his own baby talk. He showed him stuff and demonstrated all his skills, and by the time Danny could sit up they already seemed to have formed some kind of brotherly alliance.
Of course, they do not get on all the time and there are periods when our home does feel like a battle ground. They each know exactly how to wind the other up and which buttons to press to get the biggest reaction. But on the whole they are pretty good brothers. I don't know if letting them play-fight helps but I think a bit of good-natured rough and tumble does help form bonds and get some of their natural aggression out in a way that makes them less likely to hit out when they are properly fed-up with each other.

Brotherly love.
I'm reading the description at the top of my blog and wondering how this post meets my own mandate!!
Well, I guess that wrestling, pillow-fighting, throwing snowballs etc are free and active activities. The role-playing element develops their imaginations, and I reckon that through fighting for fun they do learn a bit about self-control and about empathising with the other participants, otherwise the fun very rapidly ceases. Will that do?


  1. Great post. I've got two boys (and a girl) and we started with a no gun policy. This actually lasted until they were 9 and 7, when they were allowed Nerf guns. But they will always find a way to fight - with sticks or by wrestling. It's just what boys do and it's fine as long as nobody gets hurt!

  2. It's true. I still felt embarrassed when Danny came out of school and said he'd spent "golden time" making a big gun out of the lego tho!

  3. Thats such a wonderful post. I have 2 boys aged 7 and 3. The gap is huge but their bond is unbreakable.
    Mine have had guns from a young age but they are only aware that they can be used on aliens etc from Ben 10 and Spiderman baddies. They dont even use them against each other when playing. My eldest is very imaginative, only other day he used a gun to pretend to undo the nuts on their cosy cab car. (i thnk he took the idea from F1).

    1. Haha! I love the F1 use of a gun! Brothers are brilliant aren't they- I just love listening to mine playing together, it's definitely a special bond. Thanks for your comment.

  4. what a really fab post i think all children go through the fight stage and discouragement may of meant they thought about it more! I really really love how your boys play together though!

    Thanks for linking up with #magicmoments x

    1. Thank you! They do play really well on the whole, which I'm so grateful for. No doubt we will have times of conflict in the future- but I've got plenty of pics to prove to them and me that they can be the best of friends!

  5. Beautiful boys - our boys get on really well but they also enjoy a good role play fight #letkidsbekids

  6. Good post. I struggle with the idea of guns as toys, but I try to remind myself how we used to play cowboys and indians etc as children and are completely unharmed by it. I am not actively encouraging it, but when it comes up I think we do need to go with it.
    Thanks for linking #Letkidsbekids