Aggressive Play – Honouring the Diversity.

Social Responsibility and Primal Urges

This is not the promised continuation of my previous post but a response to a discussion now several months old on a local chat group of parents in my area  discussing their thoughts about some children – mostly boys – and their parents engaging in ‘aggressive’ or warrior type play in public kids’ parks…..I thought it fit in nicely, so here it is.

I’m amazed and grateful for the wonderful array of thoughtful responses I read on our local parents yahoo group.  I love living here! I love honoring the diversity, and working with our children to slowly recognize that not only is each individual child’s needs and desires to play safely, yet have their interests and drives acknowledged, but also that there are many different social expectations around what is “right”… simple examples that tend not to trigger us as much as aggressive play or weapons, running barefoot, climbing up the slide, eating ice-creams or super junk food in front of other kids, ownership of cool toys, bikes, free toys….

Most of all, I think our kids are learning that there are different opinions, and when choosing play styles, or toys to use in social spaces, we have a role in how others feel, react to, learn from, shy away from us etc.   Awareness, relativity and social responsibility!!!!!!

The best lessons ever.  We and our kids are a lucky bunch!

Years ago, before I was a mother, traveling in Rio, Brazil with my mum, where guns are a reality – as security in banks, and on the street as threats, my mum ‘took a shot’ of a young kid, maybe 3 years old, standing with a huge plastic toy gun. I remember her exclaiming in sorrow every time we looked at the picture!  I vowed long ago, I wouldn’t let my son ever play with weapons.

I did well in the first few years… Now, he’s a master swords fighter: bamboo, cardboard, nerf, bows and arrows, daggers, pirate pistols…. and yes the good old fashioned stick!  Just today, I was at the family place with two of the older children I care for, one girl, one boy, who I found building lego guns up in the castle, and reminded them that I didn’t want them coming down stairs and pointing play guns at anyone; showed them the trick of turning the lego gun into a camera, how hunting for pictures is so similar…

Yes, media is awful, it’s a culprit for sure…but it’s the teaching of
disconnect in media we need to remedy…..

I’ve steeped myself in discussions of social mores, education, child raising, I was so upset when my son started to play violent games, yet for time immemorial, children have imitated what they see in society, they work through it, they want to come to terms with it. On top of that boys and girls have an incredible surge of hormones around 4-7 years old (?) and need to exert themselves physically in an ‘aggressive’ way that hints of the forces of nature, the elemental core of right and wrong, or power over….and, and, and, so many of our kids are so lorded over by their families, pre-schools, schools, restrictions, bed times, rules, rules, rules, when they find a fantasy play that helps liberate them and switch power roles, boy oh boy, (girl oh girl) do they love it!!

I heard of one family of two boys who’d been exposed to little media, and whose parents were committed to a non-violent, peaceful, Buddhist relationship with life. They had not only forbidden gun play or any other weapons, fantasy play of battles etc.., they had espoused their ideals of non violence, teaching honor and respect for life, gentleness etc.  For several years, they thought it had worked. Then one night they awake in the middle of the night to find their two sons fighting in privacy behind closed doors with toilet paper rolls, in the bathroom, so…..

So, in the end it comes down to, what everyone has said: Are others safe? Is someone feeling scared?  Should we stop or find a more appropriate space?  Do others want to join in?  What are the other parents desiring to teach their littles?…. And never ever point a stick, sword, gun in someone’s face if they haven’t agreed to that kind of play!

Then go back to the roots: Why do kids love power plays? Why do we have a disconnect in our society?  Would you rather have your boys (many), girls (some) playing “battle it out” video games (or any other kind – ones that create scenarios of win-loose, better than others, amassing booty etc.) by the time they are 7 or hand crafting bow and arrows themselves, harnessing chi, or still enjoying a good fantasy romp with their mum(s) or dad(s) in which they can dabble in the warrior spirit, ideas of darkness, death, mastery, courage, self-sacrifice, and the powers of nature…?

Channeling into sports, other forms of competetiveness, does not help them, in my humble opinion , come to a deeper understanding of their urges, their subconscious, their rationalizing of what society shows, their need for morals, codes…

I would want them to play out all their urges, and socialize, meaning, come slowly to realize that there’s nothing we do that doesn’t somewhere impact our environment, the people, animals and plants.

Happy last day of bike to work week(written way back then!).  With all that passion to fight, know, learn, belong, be accepted that our children are showing us, let’s all remember how important it is to model compassion and gentleness to others, humans, all
life forms, and the planet.

That’s my super rant!


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