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.
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: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/toy-guns-do-they-lead-real-life-violence . 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.
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!
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!
Of course, they also FIGHT. They are siblings. It happens.
|My new brother... friend or foe?
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...
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.
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?