Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bang bang I shot you down

Now we have gone up to Big Nursery and are with a lot of older children, there is a sudden lurch in the level of language that is entering our house.

I'm sure that, compared to most children his age the spud is still lagging generally behind in his ability to reason and communicate and so any progress should be good news; however, some of the things he's coming out with recently are perhaps a little more advanced than I would like.

Most of his new phrases like: "I've got it!" are quite cute, but one is rather less sweet. The spud (and, I have to say, most of his friends) has suddenly started pointing things at us and saying "I kill you". Even his very sweet little girlfriend has started saying it... they were running around the other day saying "I kill you" "no I kill YOU!"

I'm conflicted. On the one hand, they have to learn about death at some point and perhaps a game is a good entry point. On the other, I find this sudden swing towards weapons and death threats disturbing in the extreme.

I shouldn't, I know. It was bound to happen at some point. My brother and I argued for days when he was only 4 about the proper way to die in a game of cowboys and Indians (on the back, one hand flung out, the other clutching one's chest) and neither of us became gun-wielding knife-toting bad guys.

Still, surrounded as we are by the wilds of Brixton and the vast and uncontrollable inconsistency that is London where children actually shoot each other , I would quite frankly rather my 3 year old said "fuck" than "kill".

Am I mad? How does one deal with this? Is it inevitable? Can I do something other than utter middle-class inanities like "don't say that word darling it's bad"? Help?

.

16 comments:

DJ Kirkby said...

I agree...there is WAY too much killing in this world and not enough loving. Afraid I have no solution for you though and that is after having 3 boys! I've given you an award on my Chez Aspie blog though. xo

Nicola said...

My boys did just the same thing - and I hate it with the same passion. As well as 'I KILL you!' they often said 'I'm going to chop your neck off!!!" with wild abandon - which almost seemed worse. It has got better but I had to endure it for a while. And I did end up lecturing them (pointlessly) whenever they said it because it upset me so much. Ultimately, the obsession with killing everyone seems to have faded a little as they are growing up (the 6 year old rarely says it tho the 4 year old is still prone to). I know my friends with girls haven't encountered this problem at all. 'I'm not your friend!' is the most violent declaration they have heard. Not fair.

Potty Mummy said...

I hated it when Boy #1 said it, and I hate it now when Boy #2 does - but the thing is, it does pass. Seems to be just a phase, and the more of a fuss you make with these boy-creatures unfortunately the more they like to press your buttons - at least in my case. So I suppose I'm saying, try and ignore it?

Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

I am right there with you! The killing/shooting/pointing every object imaginable at others is driving me up the wall! I am sure ignoring it would make it go away faster, but we have taken to talking to Cooper about what it is that he is doing and what it means. It seems morbid to talk to a 4-year-old about what killing someone actually means, but I would rather he understand than think it is okay to go around offing people. We also have a handgun in the house (locked up, of course), so we have started him in on gun safety by talking about what they are, what they do, and what he should do if he ever comes across one. I feel like I am forcing him to come to terms with grown-up things too young.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Mhm. Better fuck than kill, I am with you on that. Haha. I just reread it and realised: That sounds pretty dumb. Sorry.

Sparx said...

DJ - Thanks for the award! Will try to get to it this week.

Nicola - good news though, thanks for that, it does help to know it'll end.

Potty - gotcha, thanks for the recommendation.

Fishsticks - I did try that approach but I don't think he really understands...

Metropolitan Mum - hahahaha!!

Emily O said...

I guess it's probably best to ignore it for now as they don't really know or understand what they're saying. My 4 year old hasn't come out with this yet but it's only a matter of time I'm sure. Unpleasant to hear, at times like this you find yourself wondering whatever happened to your little baby!

Iota said...

Hm, well, I'm going to stick my neck out and be different here.

My family is strongly pacifist. My grandfather was a conscientious objector in WW1, and a Quaker. My mother brought us up to be strongly anti-war. BUT we were allowed to play with guns as children, and some of my happiest memories are of hiding, stalking and shooting my siblings with toy guns.

Now I have 3 kids of my own, I have agonised long and hard about this. I do let them play with weapons. At the moment, there's a craze for Nerf guns, plastic guns which shoot little foam rubber darts, and we have an impressive collection. Husband and I join in the games from time to time.

I do worry if we've done the right thing, but I justify it on the basis that it's better for them to play here, and get it out of their systems, than to make it a forbidden pleasure that they indulge at other people's houses.

I suppose I feel that the world is a violent one, and much as I want to protect them from that, I can't do that forever. Playing with guns is one way of making sense of it all.

But I'm not at all confident I'm right.

Iota said...

Sorry, got carried away, and didn't address the issue of whether it's ok to say "I'm going to kill you".

I think, at your son's age, he doesn't know what it means, and is just copying. Therefore, I wouldn't go into the issues, but I'd just say "that's not a nice thing to say", and not make too much of it.

It is so sad when you see their innocence being lost...

Sphinx said...

This is a difficult one. There are many issues we would wish to protect our children from for as long as possible, but aggression is in all of us to some degree. It is an emotion, like any other, a chemical reaction in the brain, and in time Spud will learn to control it.
i think, as Iota says, playing cowboys and indians (or space invaders) WITH him, and making sure that he understands it IS just a GAME may help bring it into perspective?
Think about it - have you, as an adult, never said 'oh, i could kill so-and-so for that!'... you wouldn't, though, would you?
kisses for Spud.

Sparx said...

Emily O - thanks for that, I think the cue here is not to make to big a deal of it...

Iota - thank you for such a frank post - and it is the two separate issues I'm discussing - both the use of language and the weapons. My parents forbade guns in our house, however they inevitably made their way in and we never confused our games with reality, it's true. On the language front, I'll just keep gently telling him that it's not nice, I suppose. Thanks again!

Sphinx - you are of course right and I guess that defining the difference between play and reality is part of our job as parents. Thanks!

Princess Mummy said...

ah-not there yet, let me know where you stand when you work it out (and whether it works lol) Our current issue is "my brain's leaking out!" whenever he has a runny nose. Shouldn't have told him it's in his head thinking about it.
Ignoring the willy conversation isn't working btw-he polled 35 people at a party last night! And one kindly person told him wee wees come out of ladies bums but eggs come out of chickens'. Cue panic when he had a boiled one for breakfast. "Not eating chicken poop!"

dulwich divorcee said...

Horrible to hear! But sounds like a passing phase - you may need to stick fingers in ears and sing la la la for a while. A friend banned all guns and mentions of killing etc and then found her son biting a BISCUIT into the shape of a gun so he could do the 'bang, bang, you're dead' thing!

Sparx said...

Princess Mummy - hahaha!!! Chicken poop! I think I'll resist explaining that one to Charlie... and seriously, he polled 35 people?!! The boy has a future in strategy...

DD - really? Oh lord. Funny though - ah the inventiveness of the predator's mind at work! Well I'm letting him get on with it and it's not been that bad the past few days...

Hoto said...

Sparx-o-matic: Don't worry. It's all in the parenting. You and Frogalicious will be fine, as will Charlie. Doesn't matter if he grows up in Beirut, Bed-Stuy, Compton or the wilds of Brixton. It's all about the parenting. Read "On Intelligence": Our brains are programmed to stereotype. If Spud lives in a world where he is always loved, never acted upon with violence, and treated honestly and with respect; and if the Spud lives in a world where killing is OK in play, but NOT ok in life, then he will grow up expecting the world to be like that. If he grows up in a world where it's OK to kill and maim, he'll mature expecting the rest of the world to believe the same thing. It's all up to you. It would take an immensely thoughtless and stupid parent to raise a thoughtless and stupid child who believes that it's OK to kill REALLY.

PS: Why do kids still play cowboys and indians? Why don't kids play "Innocent Child and Fucked up White Trash Parent"? kids are 100% more likely to be killed by their own parents than they are by a cowboy.

Sparx said...

Hoto - yeah I know... it's true... the first part is good and the second part is so unbelievably awful. You gotta be some fucked up kid to end up killing your own kids.