Thursday, November 8, 2007

Things that go "Bang!"

I think it's genetic. Something is hard-wired into the male brain that creates this obsession with things that go "Bang!" Or maybe that Y-chromosome lacks something that inhibits this obsession in girls. We start out as little boys in awe of obvious, overt things that go bang like guns. Over time, we mature and gain appreciation for things that go bang in different ways like an internal combustion engine or a nuclear power plant. I can look back and see this development in my own life. As a kid, my dad would take me to visit the ships he was stationed on, and all I cared about seeing were the GUNS and the MISSILES, and he always seemed excited to show me the engine room. I didn't get it back then. I think I was in high school before I saw my first LM-2500 gas turbine on an AEGIS cruiser and think that was pretty darn cool.

What made me think of this is watching our boys and their obsession with guns. I think ES's drawings of ships with guns all over them are very similar to the drawings I remember making when I was less than 5 years old.
Quick Tangent: How do I know it was before I turned 5 years old? Because I remember the house we lived in at that time. As a military brat moving from place to place, you can generally place any memory, song, or movie within about a 2-year timespan because you remember which house you lived in.
LW and I have tried, and still continue to try, to suppress some of this obsession with guns. Back while we were in VA, I wanted these really cool miniature remote control tanks for my birthday that shot infrared beams at each other and could tell when they had been "hit." LW said no, they were too violent. We didn't let the boys watch violent movies or play violent video games. Yet, walking through Home Depot one day, I found the boys sitting in the basket had picked up the allen wrenches I was going to buy, and were using them as "guns" pointing them out of the basket and "shooting" at people. So even if we don't get them toy guns, they make toy guns out of Legos or tools or pencils or whatever else they happen to have handy. So we figured it was hard-wired in little-boys brains and our attempts at keeping them isolated from all things "violent" weren't really working, and we slacked off a bit.

I feel like it's a little out of control now. 3 1/2-year old YS particularly worries me. If the doorbell rings, he runs to the front door and assumes the Weaver stance to "shoot" whoever is behind the door. I don't think 5 waking minutes goes by without YS making one of his three favorite sound effects:
1) "shpew!" - his shooting noise. This is usually preceeded by favorite sound effect #2.
2) "chk-chk" - the sound he makes like he's pulling the slide back on a semi-automatic weapon and chambering a round (followed soon thereafter by assuming the Weaver stance and sound effect #1, or running into another room holding his hands in a two-handed pistol-grip).
3) "ching-ching-ching" - the sound he imitates from Age of Empires for swords clanging in a sword fight. This sound effect is evoked with chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant, or drinking straws at just about any other restaurant, or a Halloween pencil he got at the fall festival.

Tonight, LW made some awesome huevos rancheros for dinner. One of the boys looked at the shredded cheese on his plate and said, "Look! It's a gun!" Somehow three pieces of shredded cheese laying on his plate looked like a gun to him. LW and I asked them why they couldn't say it looked like a tree or a flower, and ES giggled because the thought we were being pretty silly. LW says she wants to have one day of nothing but Barbie dolls, no guns allowed, but quickly realized they would somehow convert the Barbie dolls into guns.
BTW - Have I mentioned that LW has started making comments how she wishes we had a girl so there would be someone in the family who would be excited about going shopping with her? I asked her if she really wanted to go back to poopy diapers. She said no. We agreed two kids was enough for us. The two we have are a handful as it is, and it's not worth the health risk to LW after her past two C-sections.
I feel like LW and I have become broken records - "Stop that! No shooting Mommy / Daddy!" "ES/YS, we don't shoot people, that's not nice!"

I sincerely hope that my theory about obsessing with things that go bang is correct, and that over time the boys' obsession will mature into interest in things like engines that harness the "bang" to do something productive instead of destructive.

There is a silver lining of sorts: At least when we're in busy department stores (NEX, Hilo Hatties...), it's not hard to find our boys. Stealthy they are not. If you hear "chk-chk", that's generally a warning that somebody is being snuck-up on and about to be "shpewed."


Corey said...

This is interesting. With all of the Halo that Andrew plays, he is not doing this. When we are playing, he can identify the sound of a shotgun, sniper rifle, etc. However, he is not "playing with guns" any other time. I have no idea why this is but I'll take it.

E.P. said...

Funny, I have the same distinct memories of elaborate (yet crudely drawn) battles between tanks, battleships and fighter jets.

For your dear LW, my mother insists that it's only been since my brother and I left the house that she's been able to regain her sanity. Before that time she was out numbered 3-1 (or more if you count the cats, but they were neutered...).

Sagey said...

It is interesting how each "boy" expresses his "manlyness". I distinctly remember Vince being into knives, so Corey watch Andrew around knives. :-) My two are obviously taking after their father in their obsessions with their military. ES as come home from school and told us that he has recreated the Attack on PH with Play-Doh, so really it is not just guns. And I suspect some of YS's obsessions are just a "monkey see, monkey do" mentatlity. Big Brother is doing is, so therefore I will.

But yes, I need a day of pink and dolls! ;-)

ep, I look forward to receiving insite/advice from your mom on how to survive raising two boys. :-)

Sagey said...

On a side note, I don't want a girl. I am very happy with my two boys. I don't think I could handle "girly" stuff every day since I am not a girly girl. I also have heard from other sources that their girls cost 3 times as much as their boy. No thanks! ;-) I just like to tease Kevin about it and watch him cringe. Also, now it is great to see what good friends my boys are to each other. No matter where we move they will have a good friend with them.

blunoz said...

Along the lines of what LW wrote, I am also glad to see the frienship our boys share. We ask the boys what their favorite part about the day was before we say bedtime prayers. It has been heartwarming for me to hear ES several times in the past few weeks say his favorite part about the day was playing with YS.

JoLee said...

So buy them some BB guns (it was ok for Ralphie) and take them out to some place to shoot tin cans. Just lock up BB guns when you get home. You know what they can do to glass patio doors. OR I could buy them for them for Christmas! Take them to the Waikiki Gun Club From experience I know that sometimes when faced with the reality of a situation, it becomes less interesting. But then, all this imaginary play is good! So many people have NO imagination!