Sunday, May 3, 2009

At Play?

When I was a kid we had our neighborhood posse.  Summer and warm weekends were great for tag, kickball, or Nerf football in the street.  One of our favorite games was "war."  There was no real objective that I remember.  We had no idea what we were "fighting" about.  It was like an intricate game of hide and seek, trying not to be captured by the other team.  We spent hours strategizing and I don't remember any of us winning or losing, just days playing and planning.

As a parent, I've vowed not to encourage play that includes pointing guns, or terms like "I killed him."  

With warmer weather here, everyone seems to come out of hibernation.  It was a beautiful day yesterday, all of the neighbor kids were out and having a great time together.  I was out last night, and Brian told me this morning that all of the kids were playing with their Nerf dart guns (seemingly replacing the Nerf football of my youth, yet safer than the cap guns we played with).  What were they playing?  War.  As Charlie put it, they were using "sleep darts."

How do I feel about this?  Is this just natural kid play?  Think about it.  We had cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, "war."  Is it harmful or just kid fun?  Are we over-sensitive to the thought of these games post 9/11 and with persistance gang violence?  But when we were growing up it was on the heels of Vietnam and still gang violence.

My brother (who I still call Billy) and I seem fairly well adjusted, and our neighborhood "posse" from youth grew up to be productive adults and not desensitized sociopaths.  So I guess everything in moderation as long as there's no malice.

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