Rowan is 5 years old. He is in kindergarten. He is the second youngest and has four brothers. He gets really dirty. He plays rough. He loves to wrestle. He got punished at school for making guns with his fingers and shooting other students. I'm not surprised. I am not surprised that Rowan plays that way, he is very imaginative. I am also not surprised that his teacher, who is a twenty something and pregnant with her first baby, punished him for it.
When I was in my mid 20's, before Austin was 2, I was adamant that he would never play with guns. I remember saying that I would never allow them in my house. I thought that if I just kept toy guns away from him he would never want to play that way; like a delinquent, a violent and angry child. Then reality set in.
One day we were sitting at the table. Austin was eating chicken nuggets. He took little bites out of a nugget in all the right places to form a perfectly shaped pistol that fit right in his tiny little hand. Then he proceeded to shoot me as he said "bang, bang". That is when I realized that playing rough, and hard, getting dirty, and playing with toy guns is just inherent in little boys. I stopped fighting it and embraced it.
Rowan has been brought up with Nerf guns, air soft guns, squirt guns and yes, guns made out of his forefinger and thumb. He shoots his brothers, his sisters and even me and Dave. We hide behind couches and ambush each other. Even Davey has mastered "playing dead". The skills have been passed down by each Dermody boy, and girl. Our weapon bucket in the toy room is overflowing, a collection of favorite bazookas, knives, rifles and light sabers collected over the years.
If the same note had come home from kindergarten when Austin was in school I probably would have panicked. I might have even asked his teacher for advice or her thoughts, "Is he a troubled kid? Where have I gone wrong?" But now I am the one with wisdom. I know that boys who play with guns can turn out to be happy and healthy young adults. So Rowan took his punishment. I signed off on the note from his teacher. I had to refrain myself from adding a little smiley face next to the comment-showing her that I was laughing on the inside. Then I advised him to save imaginary play involving guns, fighting, the military, hunting, God, and Christmas-all permitted at home but taboo in school-for at-home play.