Water guns, bubble guns all over! Help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 02:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am not sure where this post belongs, but I will try here:

We don't have any play guns at home in any form. Now that the weather is warming up, every single one of my neighbors has some sort of water gun and even "bubble guns" that shoot out bubbles. Am I carrying the "no guns" thing too far in feeling like I don't want my DS playing with water guns or bubble guns? He immediately gravitates to these things at the neighbors and starts "shooting" (water or bubbles), but I see him looking slightly agressive when doing it and I feel it isn't really much different that playing with a gun! I don't want him to be pretending to shoot people!!! This issue has also come up with GI Joe toys - I don't want him playing soldiers - he is only 4.5 and I don't understand why people want to teach their kids about fighting in wars at such a young age!)

Two questions: what do I tell my son about these toys? How do I handle it when he is playing with these things at other people's houses? We can't really avoid it without completely isolating ourselves from the other kids in the neighborhood, which I don't want to do. I am truly at a loss. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 03:08 AM
 
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i also am having this dilema. my dd plays with boys who play guns and she pretends to shoot people, even me. she is only 2 1/2 and it really bothers me. she will even take a stick and play shooting. i don't like it.
i hope we get some answers here.
t
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#3 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 04:04 AM
 
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OMG JJMama ! Dh and I were *just* talking about this very thing !...I mean like 10 minutes ago.

Here's *my story*
Dh is very anti-gun, his dad (an old and now ex hippie) made him vow to never join the army (because of the guns, the killing, this is shortly after the American War in Vietnam), he was raised to fear and despise them. MY dad OTOH is a card carrying NRA member, who hunts every fall and shoots for sport at targets (he also collects knives and loves to whip them out but that is another story). Anyways suffice it to say our homes were very different.
Now don't go thinking I am pro-gun or anything, just that it set the tone for me buying a squirt gun to get the cats with. When I nurse DD they seem to know I won't chase them off of the table, etc, they normally they do what I ask of them, but sometimes when they know I am nursing her it's like they think it's time to get away with stuff. Anyways I just wasn't thinking of it as a gun toy but as a conveyance device to squirt water long distance in order to get cats to stop licking the butter dish without getting up.

When Dh saw them he said no he didn't want them in the house cause they are gun toys. I totally respect and agree with this, once it has been brought to my attention, but just hadn't thought of it that way. We are giving it to a friend.

Yet it was DH who brought a bubble gun into the house years ago, but of course we didn't have a child then.

Another thing, I have a friend who is VERY AP, natural, organic, totally granola, ya know ? Her 5 year old DS was never allowed to play with gun or war toys, the whole bit strcitly enforced for the whole time. Then for his 6th Bday he gets a cowboy set with a toy gun and he LOVES it. He is just in love with cowboys. She allows him to play with it because she wants to repect his wishes in some way I think. I think she just talks to him a lot about how guns kill people and it might be fun to play but that is not real life, etc, just talking to him about it, keeping in touch. Last summer I saw a boy his age he was playing with go up to his own mom and put a toy gun to her head and say he was going to shoot her. She basically ignored him, fearing if she made a big deal out of it he'd want to do it more. Probably not my choice but it was hers, and she is VERY AP, all that, there's no way a gun would get into her house.

When DD gets older I don't think I can keep her from ever encountering them in the world, but we can not have them in the house and tell her why we don't have guns in our house. Explain it just like why we don't eat meat (usually )

Just my two cents, I have been thinking about this subject quite a lot lately

BTW terabithea great name is it taken from the book A Bridge to Terabithea ? I loved that book although it was very sad.

OM
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#4 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 04:07 AM
 
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My DS just turned 3 so I cleaned out his toys including all guns. He got an Action Man from the neighbor with 2 pistols and Uzzi and a cross bow that shoot arrows.

I don't have a ban on waterguns except in the house. He can play with one in the back yard and in the bath.

I guess moderation in all things is what we gotta be looking at here. If we Forbid all guns guns will become the most interesting toy. If we don't emphasize them their attraction will wane...I hope.
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#5 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 04:33 AM
 
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We are completely opposed to toy guns. Interestingly, our policy worked well while we lived in the US--people generally respected it, anyway--but here in Sweden where guns are not a social or political issue, the kids seem to play with toy guns much more casually. Watching the children here has made my feelings about guns all the stronger. I don't like the way the tone of play changes when a toy gun, water or otherwise, is introduced into a game. The power structure shifts (because of a weapon! UGH!) and the language becomes harsher. So no toy guns for my three boys.

We have found water "rhinos" "dinosaurs" and "space ships" and toys that spray bubbles in many different forms. My kids are just as happy with these.

We have also been quite open with our opinion about guns in general, and what toy guns represent. I don't want to shelter my kids, that has nothing to do with why we have a no gun play policy. I want my kids' understanding of what *is* a major social and political issue to come from conversation as well as play. When kids are exposed to toy guns without conversation, they have no way of putting what the toy represents into context.

My children have gone through many stages. My oldest (9) has never liked guns anyway. My middle son has a friend *sigh* who is very into war play and dealing with that has been a challenge. My youngest is three, and it hasn't been a big issue with him either.

Removing them from objectionable circumstances that can't be otherwise resolved, substituting toys we think are more appropriate, and redirecting when necessary has generally worked for us.

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#6 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 04:35 AM
 
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It's a tough decision. We don't allow any toy guns, but of course he will pick up a stick or use his finger. More importantly than the toys themselves is the rule that we have- no pointing weapons of any sort (imaginary or pretend) at people. You can shoot the wall, but you can't shoot your friends. He did get a couple bubble guns for gifst and we kept them- they are so far removed physicaly from what an actual gun looks like, and they have an actual positive function so I feel it is a good compromise.
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#7 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 04:39 AM
 
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We don't allow them at all, but it's possible to find water sprayers that are other shapes, animals, etc. We got a b'day party favor once of a shovel (with Elmo on it) that squirted water, too. Last but not least, one of those little empty spray bottles filled with water works on a summer's day, too (atomizer? isthat the word?)

- Amy
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#8 of 19 Old 05-30-2002, 10:45 AM
 
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I was going to suggest the animal shaped squirters, or spray bottles too.

Actually, water guns are the one toy gun that we allow -- but they do not look real, and that is important to me -- To draw a distinct line between real and imaginary. The kids (ds and his best friend) play "good guys" and "bad guys" all the time -- I don't know where it started. They like to be on the same team, so they use dolls as "bad guys," which I'm not so comfortable with, so I designated the row of trees behind our house as official "bad guys." It is bizarre to me that they come up with these games in spite of sheltered and sensitive upbringings! And used sticks as weapons well before the water guns. But I really don't want to make a big deal out of it, and I don't want to interfere too much with their imaginitive play.

Last year I was discussing the concept of "shooting" with ds who was then 4. He listened to me for a while and then said, "Mom, I'm a smart guy. You should believe that I can tell the difference between real and pretending."
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#9 of 19 Old 05-31-2002, 06:23 PM
 
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We pay attention to the semantics in our house. I just bought one of those "bubble guns" that you can attach the bottle of bubbles to and it blows non-stop. I got tired of doing it with the wand. I just don't have that much hot air.

Anyway, we call it a "Bubble Blower" not a bubble gun. It has a pretty ambiguous design. My dh and dd each have a "Super Soaker" but we call them super soakers, not guns or squirt guns. We also make a point of using the word "spraying" rather than "shooting" when it comes to spraying each other.

Maybe these are small things in the larger scheme of the question, but my boys (4 and 1 1/2) use them as toys, and are clueless that they could even resemble any sort of weapon.
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#10 of 19 Old 05-31-2002, 06:57 PM
 
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i just wanted to say be careful using spray bottles--my nephew (3) played with them all the time last summer, spraying his face, hair, etc. with water. then one day someone left out their cleaning spray and he sprayed it right in his eyes. luckily it didn't do much damage, but it sure didn't feel like water, and it could have been much, much worse.
ds will not be able to have toy weapons either when he gets older. i found a toy gun that my little brother had one day when i was cleaning. he had wrapped it in electrical tape so it looked like a real gun.
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#11 of 19 Old 06-01-2002, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Great ideas. Thanks everyone. Mamaduck, it's so funny because my DS who is 4 said exactly the same thing to me when I talked to him about guns. Now he tells me all the time, "We're just pretending, mom." I still don't think it is ok for him to preten

I do think the language we use is really critical.
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#12 of 19 Old 06-01-2002, 11:09 AM
 
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#13 of 19 Old 06-01-2002, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DD hit a key before I could finish my last post, but what I was going to say is that I still don't think it is ok to "pretend" to shoot people even though he says that he is just pretending. Mamaduck, I struggle to come up with a balance between not making a bid deal about it and also teaching him what is ok and not ok. I guess I am traumatized by Columbine and by the fact that there is so much violence all around our kids and it's hard to know where to draw the line in terms of teaching them values, but also letting them do what they are going to do.... it's amazing how universal it is that they want to play good guys and bad guys and that they make guns out of sticks, but I really do wonder how much of that is because we live in such a violent culture and it's everywhere and hard to escape from.

My consolation is that my DH and his brother always wanted to play with swords and guns ( and were allowed to as kids) and they are both great, non-violent people!
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#14 of 19 Old 06-01-2002, 01:29 PM
 
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Good point about spray bottles solmama !

I also think semantics are important in the way we teach our children how to think about things
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#15 of 19 Old 06-01-2002, 06:16 PM
 
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I know lots of AP people who absolutely do not limit the weapon play. They believe that by limiting/forbidding it, you make it more attractive. My kids will make weapons out of any thing - sticks, french fries, leggos, etc. I do not buy them realistice looking weapons. I know they will do weapon play, but they are going to use their imaginations while they do it, I won't provide them with realistic weapons. Recently we got these florescent colored groaning tubes. They look like light sabers. The weapon play around here got so violent with these toys that I had to get rid of them. While they play swords and stuff, it doesn't get so violent, unless the toy is realistic. My son just got a water gun from the dentist (well, it's better than candy, I guess). It got lost. I'm actually not sure how, but I'm not nusting my butt looking for it. I'm trying to decide if I want to tell him no guns next time - the dentist has a big bag of toys the kids can choose from.

I can definitely see how some kids are very interested in weaponry, just as some kids ae very interested in dinosaurs or trains or what have you. I can see getting weapons in that case. I can also see target practice or teaching to use a gun when they get older. I also know people who are hunters who want to start early teaching their kids to use guns responsibly. There's just really no place for guns in my lifestyle
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#16 of 19 Old 06-01-2002, 08:05 PM
 
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:

I used to teach preschool and from my experience I learned that no matter what you do, most children are going to want to do gunplay. At the two schools I taught at, there was a "no gun" rule. Of course, we had no toy guns in the school. But the children found a way to make their own guns. They were VERY creative. They made guns out of legos, tinker toys, blocks, etc. When we caught them, we were supposed to remind them that gun play was not allowed. They'd reply "Um, um this is not a gun. This is a um. Well, it throws fire."

In essense, all the gun rule did was push the play underground. From my experience, I concluded that I would not have a "no gun" rule. No, I'm not going to go out and buy my son fake guns. (Maybe a water gun that does not look like a real one). But if my son builds a gun out of legos or uses his finger to shoot a badguy, so be it. I'd rather talk to him about these issues, remind him that fake guns are fun. But real guns kill people, than to make it a taboo topic.

Dina
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#17 of 19 Old 06-04-2002, 12:57 AM
 
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We call them squirters. Our son, 3, already knows how strongly we feel about guns. He will make a gun out of something and then say quickly, oh, it's not a gun mommy , it's a and then he makes up a word like woozlewazzle. I just tell him again how guns hurt people and make everyone sad. But, he does watch Star Wars, yes, I know, and sees lasers and light sabers. But, he says they only make people fall down and then they get back up. But, they are not hurt. I don't feel great about that. He is very sensitive and doesn't intentionally hurt things. And gets upset if someone is hurt or sad. I think some of this rough play is natural, but not guns. We try to find squirters that are shaped differently. But, sometimes he plays with kids at the park who pretend with guns and he runs behind them saying "Hey, guns aren't nice, stop that." Oh course they are 6-7 and he is 3 so they don't pay attention to him, no matter what he does.
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#18 of 19 Old 06-05-2002, 06:14 PM
 
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I know we will have to face this issue someday... But not for another year or 2, thank goodness [baby still cookin' on the inside ]!

What I was wondering, does anyone remember playing with these things when you were little? I distinctly remember having a cap gun that I loved & water guns, etc. ... My cousin & I used to love to watch the old 'cowboys & indians' movies - cause they had "horsies" ~ and we used to then run around & play cowboys & indians... But, I have grown up to be VERY anti-violence/anti-gun & I don't know how I will handle this kind of play.

It is just an interesting thing to think about - whether or not I will be too obsessive about this stuff - or if I should just accept play as play & educate the difference from reality...

HOWEVER - things are different these days - kids will see some pretty violent acts on the news, which is reality - when I was a child, it was all a make beleive thing - at least in my little world... There is SO much more REAL violence on TV than there used to be...

What's worse, is my niece & nephew's father has guns for hunting [he's a real charmer...], and he bought a gun locker - big tall thing, about 6' tall - and he puts in upstairs in the living room. Heck, it's practically in the kitchen. [When SIL was married to him she wanted it in the garage, but of course, he gets what he wants - good thing they are separated now, but the kids still spend half their time with him.]
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#19 of 19 Old 06-06-2002, 12:55 PM
 
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I totally agree with thirtycats. When I taught preschool we weren't supposed to let them play guns at all. They would make them out of Legos or with their fingers and I hated having to interrupt their play over and over again to enforce a rule they weren't going to obey anyhow. When I have kids I will not allow toy guns in our house, but I think finger guns are inevitable and won't cause them to grow into violent adults.

On the other hand, one of my best friends disagrees with me on this issue. She taught the children in her care to never use guns, and even managed to convince the older children to model for the younger children that guns are bad and we should never play with them, ever. And it seemed to work. So I think both approaches have merit.

I was never allowed to have guns as a kid, not even water guns, although my mother did let me play with other people's water guns if they happened to have them. But I was never really into that stuff anyway--sexist as it sounds, it'd probably be different with a boy.

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