Weapons, Wars, and Wicked Witches

Andy FairhurstOur family has quite the stockpile of weapons. Last time I checked, we owned three swords, four handguns, one rifle, one crossbow, and one rather large scythe. My sons are becoming quite skilled at using them. In fact, just yesterday —

Oh relax. They are toy weapons. You know — Nerf guns, foam swords, etc. Yup…our household is a never-ending battle zone of good guys vs. bad guys, superheroes vs. supervillians, humans vs. giant alien robot vampires. Thanks to my 8 and 12 yr.-old sons, my peace and quiet are constantly disrupted as wars break out and foam bullets whiz past my head.

In the public schools where I teach, weapons play is strictly forbidden. But in our house, it is not only allowed, but I am happy to supply the toy arsenal and provide ideas for war strategy. Too violent? I disagree. Through their play, children work through the issues that frighten them, and have the ability to overcome or understand their fears. When my son swings his foam sword and slices off the head of the imaginary zombie, he then becomes more powerful than the creature in his imagination. When my daughter assumes the role of antagonist and becomes a wicked witch, the reversal of roles allows my daughter to lose her fear of the witch whom she portrays. And when my oldest son aims his gigantic nerf blaster at his me and shoots me in the forehead with a suction dart, he learns that I can become a monstrous creature who snarls and shrieks and takes all the weapons away.

(Well, okay. That’s a different lesson. No shooting mothers or other unarmed civilians). Andy Fairhurst

This Halloween, like millions of other typical American children, my three kids will dress up in costumes and go out to beg for candy. My youngest son, who was The Grim Reaper last year (hence the scythe in our arsenal), has decided to be a protagonist this year — a good king who only fights bad guys with his sword. My daughter will be a witch. My oldest son has decided to be a spooky ghost. As for me, I am thinking of dressing up in costume too. Maybe I will duct tape our entire collection of weapons to my body and go as a contestant in the Hunger Games.