Guns & Swords, Yay!

Before I had kids, I thought parents who let their kids play with toy guns were…misguided. I judged them. And I judged them hard. 

Swords were sorta okay in my mind though. Swords are somehow better than guns. Why is that? All the parents I know are 732% more likely to buy their kids toy swords than toy guns. I guess it might have something to do with kids not killing each other with swords when they grow up. So they seem safer? More socially acceptable?

Still. Don’t fall for this line of deception. Swords suck. 

I don’t buy either one for my kids. But it doesn’t matter. They make them. Tinkertoys, LEGO, sticks, paper towel rolls. All of these things can be easily fashioned into advanced weaponry. 

But I’m going to let you in on my dirty little secret. I much prefer guns.

Well, the handmade ones at least. (My former pre-kids self would be appalled! Don’t tell her. I hate it when she judges me.) 

This is why guns are better. Using LEGO® as their gun material:


It is a proximity thing.

See how they can be across a room, safely killing each other? Handmade guns don’t actually work. Nobody gets hurt. Awesome!

But with LEGO® swords it is like this: 


Too close. They hit the swords together. They hit each other. Handmade swords work! Which means they get hurt. Swords suck.

Yay toy guns! Or…wait, what am I saying here exactly? That can’t be right.

Sigh. Parenting is confusing. (Tell that to my former pre-kids self. Also tell her to sleep in while she still can.)


Truth be told, Crappy Boy didn’t even know the word “gun” until he was four. I kept him locked up in a nice little bubble for as long as I could. He learned about them from other kids at the park.

I know this can be a hot topic for some people. I hate hot topics. I much prefer lukewarm ones. Like urine. 

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277 Responses to Guns & Swords, Yay!

  1. laura says:

    LOL, this is exactly how it is at my house! I’m with you on the swords and it being a proximity thing!

  2. Laura ZS says:

    I’m convinced. Also, any ideas of where I can find a bubble like that for my child?

    (Swords seem heroic, swashbuckling pirates and musketeers, high class. Blame Hollywood and cheesy romance novels – not that I read those….)

    • amber says:

      There is no point, it always pops eventually!

      • Jackie says:

        Haha that’s right it always pops. My son’s first experience with a toy gun… He referred to it as a hair dryer. I thought awesome, but after preschool he is now fully aware off al weaponry. I think it’s in their DNA as males…

        • Raquel says:

          Lol. With us, it was the other way around. My 3yo looked at my hair dryer and thought it was a gun! Oops… His bubble popped earlier than we hoped…

    • Cynthia says:

      My 2yo wanders around saying “shoot! shoot!” while pointing anything at everything. His 6yo brother didn’t know about guns until at least four (okay, maybe 3.5)

  3. Jessica B. says:

    “Safely killing each other” had me rolling. My kids have squirt guns. Never ever in a million years thought I’d allow them to have squirt guns but they do. Although I had squirt guns as a kid and it was no big deal back then.

    • amber says:

      Good point! I had squirt guns (and even cap guns) when I was five.

      • Natalie B says:

        oooo cap guns rock!

        • Jessica says:

          Plus you can hit the caps with hammers in the driveway. Hammers!

          • Spring says:

            Yay! I was starting to think I was the only odd kid in the world who had done that! He looked at me like I had a third eye when I asked if he’d ever used hammers on cap gun strips in the driveway …

      • Amanda Close says:

        we had “Spud Guns” as kids, and boy did they sting IF you were shooting against my big brother.. no one else could aim as well as he. We also had SLINGSHOTS!!! now illegal here in Aust. This was all way back in the dark, dark ages of the 60s and 70s though. Aaaah, what a child hood, bliss.

      • Heather C says:

        Yeah…squirt guns are “squirters” and of course we have “blasters”. But we all know what they really are, just sounds nicer to pretend.

        • carolinagirl says:

          ha! that’s what we say, too, to my 4-year-old. water guns are blasters or squirters, that way he can have fun without us feeling guilty.

    • Julia Cornell says:

      LOL! We had managed to make it to the weekend before our older son turned 4 before the squirt gun arrived. It’s been 6 days since MY MOTHER bought him the squirt gun. Is it wrong to want to shoot HER with it?

  4. Just Me says:

    My boys used to collect sticks from the yard. They kept a stockpile of them in the “clubhouse” of their swingset. And when they went outside to play, their favorite game was “sword fight”. I hate to tell you this, but they never outgrew it.

    Good luck.

    • Grown up kids says:

      My 3 sons, and all their friends played with sticks (which were pretend guns, swords, clubs, etc.) from the time they walked till probably age 10 or so. It drove me crazy! They had a house full of toys, and yet there they were, playing with sticks. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but I was constantly afraid of someone’s eye being put out. I used to threaten them that if all they wanted to play with were sticks, then that would be all they would get for Christmas. The threat did nothing more than produce whining. Sticks, apparently, rule.

    • Jessica says:

      My son keeps sticks in his tree house too!

    • Melanie says:

      What is it with boys and sticks? My 2 year old loves them. Drives me nuts. He’s like a dog.

      Trying to stay away from the gun thing too, but with two older boy cousins, this is probably a losing battle.

    • mandy says:

      I used to go to Boy Scout camp as chaperon, my favorite thing was watching these “too cool” guys having stick fights with each other. I mean high school age!

  5. NinaN says:

    OMG. I hadn’t even thought about that. Must rethink stance on toy gun issue immediately……

  6. BeckyKay says:

    I avoided guns for a long time, too. Now we own enough nerf guns to equip a small army of 8 year old boys. And I spend a lot of time yelling, “We don’t shoot people!!”

    • meagen says:

      Me too!!

    • Kathleen says:

      I have thought of converting the boys’ closet into a Nerf gun armory. It’d be pretty sweet.

    • Corinne B says:

      The nerf ones are cool, but I have this fear of projectiles. Rubber bands, corks on champagne and Nerf guns all set me to cowering, whimpering, “You could put an eye out with that thing!” I realize that these are mostly my own issues, but I did have a friend in high school who had to wear an eye patch (arrr!) for a bit because she had her cornea scratched BY SOMEONE FLIPPING A DIME. Seriously, what are the odds?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hahaha I am forever yelling “we don’t shoot people!” at my 2 year old. He learned guns and swords from our older, cooler neighbors.

    • Diane says:

      I not only spend lots of time yelling “We don’t shoot PEOPLE!” but also trying (in vain) to list exactly what we can and can’t shoot (sisters, caterpillars, invisible bad guys, stuffed animals), and with what (nerf guns, hands shaped like guns, sticks made into laser guns). Parenting is exhausting.

    • Lisa says:

      My rule is “No shooting at people’s heads. Arms, legs and torsos are fine, just not at close range.” Yep, I was an anti-gun mom before I was actually a mom of three boys.

  7. Catherine says:

    We have nerf-style foam swords. They’re great cause I can smack him over the head with it, and it doesn’t hurt.

  8. meagen says:

    I don’t want my children playing with either but like you said they make them outta everything. My family aggs it on too and lets them shoot at them… I never alow it. Im not against guns or knives just in the hands of my Preschoolers.

  9. Ariana says:

    I don’t see the problem with toy guns. Maybe thats because I’m married to an American Soldier. My son only has one toy gun, and its a camo riffle 😉

    Ariana Rathburn
    Independent Scentsy Consultant

    • Just Plain Jason says:

      I am a veteran myself and have a very strong military tradition in my family. I grew up around guns my entire life, so for me I guess this was never a really big issue for me and my family. I think I got my first 22 at around 8 or 9… I don’t remember when I got my first bb gun.

      • Sarah says:

        See, I would think people with guns in the house would be MORE concerned with kids not thinking of guns as toys. I have a friend who has…ahem…a lot of guns (okay, he could probably defend the whole state against a ground attack) He is very much into gun safety (he has a gun safe for them) and he teaches his kids gun safety and how to shoot from a fairly young age and he NEVER allows toy guns in his house, he freaked when his wife bought the kids nerf guns. He never wants them to think of guns as toys. I feel the same way, my dad has a gun and I don’t ever want my kids to think, “hey, I have one of these toys at home.” Of course, like crappy baby and boy, my kids (also 2 and 4) are apt to make guns out of anything (toothbrushes, forks, pieces of cardboard)

        • Liza says:

          Like most parenting issues, I think this topic is something that moms and dads must talk to their children about.

          Obviously, you don’t want your children growing up thinking that guns are toys — so say so! Children are smart enough to understand the difference between their “toys” and the real deal. Growing up, my little brother had all the NERF guns and other toy weaponry, which I regularly had to dodge. We also watched the old Looney Tunes cartoons in which the characters shoot guns, hand one another sticks of dynamite, and drop anvils on each other’s heads. But we knew that this kind of behavior was unacceptable in “real life.” Same with the violent video games.

          All this was going on while my dad had several guns in the house. I never saw them or even knew where they were until I was a teen. But my brother and I were taught from a young age to respect real guns and the harm they could cause. And to this day, my brother has several real guns and is very “safety first” about them.

          So talk to your kids. But also let them have their fun!

      • Korenna says:

        I read “vegetarian” at first and was all: “great, now this herbivore evangelist is going to give us a gun lecture…” Living in California for the past 3 years has warped my brain!

  10. Kathy V. says:

    Huh. Maybe you could have the best of both worlds and teach them to make Lego crossbows? Then you have distance AND archaic weaponry.

  11. Amy says:

    I have two daughters who play swords with their cousins. It always ends in tears so I think you are onto something here!!! LMAO

  12. Megan says:

    A friend and I were having this conversation, she wouldn’t buy toy guns so he decided the toy drill would become his toy gun! Funny how that happens!

  13. Nikki says:

    I don’t buy guns for my children but that does not matter to them. My 3 year old made a gun out of my manual breast pump once. And my 18m old pointed the ketchup bottle at me the other day and said “boom, boom, boom”. *parenting fail*

  14. Melanie says:

    Oh yeah, swords are the worst! Seems to be no way to stop the making of swords and guns though.
    We bought the boys big inflatable swords for Xmas. Worked well until they sword fought through the rose bushes at my parents place.

  15. Vicky says:

    Like you I never brought a gun for my first son. Didn’t matter though, because he could and would turn anything into a gun. And I would naively redirect it into something else…like a fishing rod.

    Son no.2, also my third, I gave up. He’s even more creative. You know the textas that click together? Even they can be turned into guns. And then there are nerf guns. Which every kid has or wants….

    And you are spot on about swords! At least with guns they are in stealth mode, hiding behind walls, couches, etc etc…

  16. Monica says:

    I was anti guns before kids and now that just seems silly! Now i understand that playing with weapons has nothing to do with violence but everything to do with pretend play, fantasy, imagination and throw a little bit of masculinity in there. Sometimes, seriously, we have to let boys be boys.

    • Diana says:

      Totally true! Though I’m going to extend your comment to “we have to let kids be kids.” As much as I dreamed my little girl would love tea parties and tutus, the reality is she much prefers pretend weaponry and warfare. At 6, she’s earned the nickname “stone cold assassin” from our church teens after she got to play capture the flag at a lock in, lol.

      • Tasha says:

        Stone cold assassin is ADORABLE!!

      • Natalie says:

        I agree Diana, as a kid I was very into toy guns and playing armies with my friends (we watched a lot of Star Wars and V). I had a hairdryer for a doll which was the perfect shape for a pretend gun. I would also make a machine gun noise which sort of horrifies me now. God knows what my parents thought! Thankfully I left all that behind as an adult and am quite anti-violence, anti-guns.

        • Ashley says:

          I was into playing “army” in the trees next to our house with my cousin and brother, lol. We always had toy guns and my grandpa gave me an old army bag, along with an actual grenade. Obviously it was not live because at some point I’d of been blown to bits and wouldn’t be sitting here typing, but still, I was definitely winning whatever war we were fighting. We weren’t scared of guns but we were taught to respect them from an early age.

  17. carmina says:

    Hilarious! I was in a shop last week and saw a ‘spud gun’. Ever have one of these, that you stick into a potato to load with a ‘spud bullet’? We had one as kids, no one lost an eye, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy one for the kids…. yet!

    • amber says:

      I’ve never seen those! Have seen the marshmallow guns though.

    • Lori H. says:

      I didn’t know they sold those in stores! My husband and his college buddies used to make them at home when they were still in engineering school. I guess some “kids” never outgrow the need to make their own toy guns!

    • Laurie says:

      We registered for spud guns when we got married. Pretty handy.

    • Parker says:

      The spud guns are a lot of fun, and the best part is you never have to worry about losing all the ammo, like nerf guns. The gun thing is tricky. We don’t really want kids to think of guns as toys, but then they are so much fun!

    • Brooke says:

      Sadly, my husband still has his potato gun he made out of pvc pipe. You use hair spray as the “gun powder”. He liked to shoot it whenever he got drunk. Did you know potatoes can fly 100 yards and still explode on impact? There’s no way in hades I’m letting him teach my daughter how to use one…

      • Jennifer J says:

        My two older boys built those as teenagers, and took them to grandpa’s farm to shoot. Thankfully, they were not drunken at the time.

        • notamomyet says:

          Ah. Potato guns are where you launch a whole potato. They are the vegetable equivalent of a bazooka.

          A spud gun is where you make the pellets by pushing into a potato. They are the vegetable equivalent of a pellet gun.

  18. Amanda N. says:

    LOL It’s crazy how kids do this! We don’t have any toy weapons in our home and yet every stick somehow inexplicably becomes a gun for “shooting”. What? Where’d that come from!? Well, then I guess there’s no point in balking at toy guns. 😛

  19. Mysti says:

    I did the same I had my daughter first – no desire to play guns. Then … THEN I had a son, who at three was fashioning guns from play-doh, duplo lego’s and damn near anything he could get his hands on. I gave up.

    The rule is the gun has to LOOK like a toy, bright colors, lazer sounds, whatever, it cannot look like a mockup of any ‘real’ gun.

  20. Oh my, you’re telling my story again. I was all “No toy guns or swords, ever!” But my boys used everything you mentioned and then some (Barbie legs for guns, pool sticks for swords, etc) to make weapons to play with. And I’m totally, totally with you on preferring the homemade handguns “across the room safely killing each other.” So funny!

  21. Rita says:

    This is hilarious. I tried to avoid guns too but in the end does it mean your kid will grown up and use one to do harm if you let them play with a Nerf gun? My very bright, thoughtful, friendly, book-loving son is obsessed with weapons of every type. It must be a testosterone thing and I try not to look at it too deeply. He’s just a boy.

    • amber says:

      So true. My husband was utterly obsessed with guns and weaponry when he was young. Drew pictures of them, read about them, everything. He grew up to be normal. Well, mostly.

  22. helen says:

    Mine will beat the crap out if each other with anything, it was the same with me and my brother, he managed to turn a pillow into advanced weaponary! A cousin of mine hospitalized me with a bike cable. Shame you can’t fix people with sticky tape like ny kids think u can.

  23. monica morrison says:

    my mother gave our 6 boys each a nerf gun for easter. her reasoning is that the bullets are soft- won’t hurt anyone. well, the bullets may not hurt anyone but the kids pummeling eachother for possession of the bullets is another story. where’s my vodka?

    • amber says:

      You had me at “6 boys”, lol.

    • Laura says:

      Bull’s eye! The soft swords and bullets aren’t helping any, when any minute it can turn into a fight for or about the weaponry. Any weaponry. I’ve yet to buy them guns, but they’ve gotten several as gifts, sigh.

      We have 3 boys and there’s always a stock pile of large sticks outside our front door. The thickest pieces of wood are rocket launcher etc.

      They can even argue about imaginary weapons, like their own fingers. My 10 year old commented the other day, how as a small kid (lol) he used to use only his index finger as a gun, but now he’s older and more knowledgeable, he knows you “have to” use both index and middle fingers for a real (imaginary) gun. And his little brothers got upset as they’d still been using only one finger. Can’t win.

      • Sherrie says:

        We solved the nerf dart fight by color coding (with markers) every one’s darts. Also, we have rules…you can’t shoot any one not holding a gun, if can’t shoot anyone in the head (time out if you do) My husband and I both have nerf guns as well. There is something wonderfully therapeutic about running around the house with your children and getting to shoot each other. And my boys do know the difference between bright yellow, plastic guns that they can touch and the real thing

  24. Heather says:

    It’s b/c they will make guns out of anything that I am only against the guns that look real. However, I refuse to buy the Nerf gun with 50 bullets b/c I don’t want to pick up the bullets. So far the “You’re too young for that. See it says so on the box.” has been working. Now he’s 6 though and he is old enough, but he has to buy them with HIS money.

    • amber says:

      Ooh, good point on the bullet clutter. (“Bullet clutter” that is funny) I think I have a reason to hold off on these for longer!

    • Lacey says:

      We trained our cat to fetch darts 😛 He LOVES Nerf-time! The noise of us loading or chambering the dart brings him running from anywhere in the house. In fact we started our Nerf collection pre-baby boy back when it was just us and a bored kitty.

      Our son quickly taught me the futility of “gender-neutral” parenting when he started beating everything and anything with his stuffed animals as soon as he developed a decent swing (~5 months)… tried so hard to teach him to cuddle with them and care for them like his girl cousin (month younger… has yet to turn her toys into weaponry). We finally gave him a Nerf hatchet so that when he went after the cats at least it was with something soft…

      • Lacey says:

        Oh, and the RULE is you don’t fire AT the cat or at people. My husband has been the most resistant to following that one – _ –

    • Necole says:

      I hated the nerf darts too…but eventually they disappear (lost in a plant or lodged up in the light fixture)…and then my boys figured out that if they didn’t pick them up, they would not have them any more…because they know I refuse to replace anything that is not taken care of….

  25. Kermommy says:

    I agree with every line. I have come to prefer pretend bullets to toy swords that can be used to bludgeon siblings, furniture and parents.

  26. Sheryl says:

    Nerf guns. They are surprisingly fun. We finally caved in and bought our kids toy guns, and mom & dad got one each also… (self-defense… hehehe). They have the cool ones that blow a ball at someone. Or regular guns with foam bullets. And the best one of all— there is one that is a MACHINE GUN… muahahahaha! (Not that I take pleasure in shooting my kids or anything…) 😉

  27. meganleiann says:

    My kids are currently into pretending bows and arrows….with hangers. The only downside is the occasional broken “bow”.

    • amber says:

      That is a brilliant use of a hanger!

    • joanne says:


      geez, this comment thread actually has me thinking I’m missing something by not having boys. Maybe I should fence my spouse. Now I just need a stick…

  28. SassyDandelion says:

    My son has attended a Christian led preschool since he was two. The school doesn’t allow the children to bring in ANY type of toy weapon (even a lego accessory gun can get them sent home). However, the little boys still made them out of Legos and blocks and anything else they can get their hands on.
    We were a no-toy-gun household (outside of the water kind) until Christmas when I got my boys (my five year old son and fourty-four year old husband) some Nerf dart guns. They like to shoot the TV with them. And the back storm door. Apparently it’s extremely entertaining to get the darts to stick…? And, I have to say, the Nerf darts hurt a heck of a lot less than the Nerf sword does!
    Sorry for the rambling comment. I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant. It makes me rambley. And random. And a little flakey.

  29. Emily says:

    I never quite understood the ‘parent aversion to gun’ mentality. My son’s first birthday, we pulled out the waterguns and had a fun time! As a Star Wars fan we have plenty of lightsabers. When someone can prove to me that hiding toy weapons from them does any real good, or that letting them play with toy weapons does harm, then I’ll look at the child with the bubble around them as something more than needing a watergun for their birthday.

  30. Shari says:

    My grandson went through a very evil sword phase. He could make anything into a sword and most of them hurt (me) because he could never be trusted not to smack my shins when we ‘played swords’. I now encourage toy gun usage, because I cannot get hurt with one (unless he throws it, but that’s a whole different topic about how a not quite three year old can throw things with speed and accuracy that rivals a major league pitcher).

  31. Samantha says:

    Consistently I read your blog, and want to hug you.

  32. Jordan McBride says:


  33. Savannah says:

    My mom had two daughter before a son, so she had it easy for six years. Girls don’t usually play with guns…usually it’s things like glitter and My Little Pony that you have to worry about (unless they have older brothers…). So, when my brother rolled around she tried but her hopes for a quiet, peaceful, non-gun-slinging boy were…shot down, if you will. He was two when he started “shooting” cars from his car seat in the back of our Dodge Caravan. Funnily enough, now, at nineteen, he makes swords. In his backyard. And not out of sticks. Out of mental and fire and other things that you make real, people killing swords with. Thankfully, he’s also ridiculously nice and would never think of actually using his swords for evil.

  34. Gina says:

    So funny!!! When my son was 2 or younger he was using those plastic GOLF clubs as guns/clubs/swords wo even knowing it. My bro in law gave him a plastic RIFLE that shoots nothing but makes a fairly realistic (but soft) gun shot. He was 3. I was horrified when he (or a lil buddy)would aim it and say “bang your dead!” i would tell them to stop!!! it was not nice!!!!they would look at me like I was speaking in french. I gave up at that point. We have lots of plastic guns and swords. I play ref. that it all

  35. Leah says:

    I have always also been a “no guns” mom, and realizes as I was reading this that maybe swords are more acceptable entirely because they DO hit each other with them and get hurt. No really, hear me out, a sword is a weapon that hurts…toy swords hurt too. Toy guns don’t hurt, real guns do. Kids know toy swords hurt (eventually), but toy guns don’t… hmm, now I shall be plagued with serious thoughts…darn it.

    • Kris says:

      That’s exactly what I was going to say! There may be a lesson to be learned with toy swords.

      So far, I haven’t had to deal with too much gun or sword play with my 4 yr old, but I know my time is running out.

  36. Sarah says:

    Surprised no one has commented on boys playing guns with their own “attachments”. Knowwhatimean? Also, we’ve had tampon guns and pregnancy test guns here. (They’re almost 2 and almost 4.)

    • amber says:

      Tampons with applicators make awesome cannons. I actually remember this from my own childhood, not from my kids!

    • Sarah says:

      By “attachments”, I mean body parts. Should have specified.

    • Clancy says:

      Wow, Sigmund Freud would delight in this post!

    • Jennifer J says:

      My two younger boys used to sit in church and design video game characters. They had all the usual weapons: pistols, machine guns, throwing stars, bazooka thrown over their backs, etc. They also had “biological sprays”. You would think the guy would be wearing armor, but no, naked. One day, their drawing got put in my 11yo daughter’s scriptures. She was helping teach the 3yo Sunday School class. One of the kids was looking at her scriptures, found the picture, showed it to the teacher. She and I got called in to be talked to. Leadership had decided that she must be being sexually molested if she was drawing such explicit pictures. We were told she was a threat to all the other children, and we were no longer welcome to attend. We actually had to sell our house and move.

      • LiteralDan says:

        Gotta love judgmental, unyielding organizations! (Churches, schools, clubs, condo boards, could be any group of people…) That’s nuts! I guess you’re probably better off in the long run for the fresh start, away from them, or at least I hope so!

  37. Lene says:

    I totally agree on the sword thing, however for different reasons. At my house the Lego sword-things made by my boys tends to breaks up very quickly, which makes my crappy baby scream.
    That again forces me to run around repairing be said swords (not fun!), or enforce a “no-Lego-sword” area, which again causes screams in stereo from my crappy baby and my crappy boy.

    It is a “do you want to get hanged or shot” situation

  38. Tanya says:

    What about knives? We (girls!) used to play with knives all the time as kids — there was a game with complex rules that involved throwing knives at the ground to carve out territory on a circle for yourself. Awesome. If my son ever tries this, I will die. Also, one day I will need to explain to him why mummy has a practice sword. (Mummy was into swordplay at one point. Mummy still loves “Xena”.)

    Toy guns, on the other hand, are stupid. Even more so than the thumb-and-index-finger approximation I remember being adopted by boys back in my childhood days.

  39. Danielle says:

    For a long time my daughter thought all guns were glue guns…..that’s what happens when your mummy is constantly doing craft, lol.

  40. sprinke says:

    I actually think it’s probably a good thing that kids learn that when they hit (or get hit by) other people wielding hard objects, someone will get hurt.

    Teaches them caution and empathy.

    • Nicole says:

      In my house, it teaches if you hit hard enough, then brother will cry and drop the sword and run away, which means TWO SWORDS for the first one. Winning!

  41. Tracy says:

    When I was a kid, there were few punishments more terrible than the one you got if you were caught pointing a toy gun at another person – and woe to the child who pointed a gun at Dad (the “enforcer”). We could play with them all we wanted, but if Dad saw you (and that was the key, really) pointing one AT someone…let’s just say it caused in me a healthy respect for dangerous weapons (and the sensitive nature of my backside).

  42. Stephanie says:

    Love how you mentioned Crappy Boy didn’t know the word until 4, but no mention of when Crappy Baby learned it LOL

  43. Melissa says:

    We don’t play guns or swords and yet still they pop up. We actually were called to a preschool parent / teacher conference because our 4 year old was making guns out of every station in the classroom. Block guns, paint stick guns, construction paper guns. They wanted to warn us before he was in kindergarten where the schools can be beyond zero tolerance. It’s a tough teach that he can’t play guns in school when the grandparents are all “what?! He’s a boy, he’s 4, of course he’ll play guns…”

  44. Gretchen says:

    This is hilarious! Don’t forget toast as a building substance. They will bite the toast into the shape of a gun. Their creativity knows no bounds!

    • Ria says:

      So true! A little boy at the nursery I work at horrified his no-guns mommy by biting his grilled cheese into a gun shape and “shooting” everyone at the table. I thought it was hilarious…

      • Cara says:

        My son eats toast to the shape of a gun, too. That and chicken nuggets.

        I tried so hard to be a gun free home when my son was first born. The only thing was that he was extremely creative and made guns out of everything. Then when he was about 3, he got his first hand me down guns from cousins. I seriously wanted to kill the parents. Now, several years later, I find myself buying Nerf guns in pairs so that he can play with his little sister. Funny how it all changes.

        We have those Nerf swords, too. I will say, though, that they still hurt!! Less than plastic, but I am forever breaking up battles from someone (usually my daughter) crying. My husband is the worst offender of these.

  45. Wendy says:

    Sorry! Swords are better than guns because they hopefully learn that it does hurt before they get to use a real one. In any case Light sabres are the ultimate child weapon! They have the best imaginary sound effects and they can’t get hold of a real one yet..

    • Wendy says:

      (but then My Lo is still in his bubble at 13 months old. No doubt he’ll be holding up the nursery with lego guns before I know it! Despite all the star wars DVDs I’ve been showing him to keep him on the straight and narrow)

  46. Beth says:

    My aunt had two boys that she raised in Texas in the late 80’s, without guns- until the first time they visited the Alamo and they turned crucifixes into guns and pretended to shoot each other in the gift shop… After that she gave up and got them guns.

  47. Tarina says:

    My boys play with both, I grew up with 2 brothers, my husband had 3 brothers… these kids never stood a chance lol — BUT – I’m gonna say, there is nothing quite like being in the middle of a video game, and while you are fighting THAT boss… you know, the one you just can’t beat… and your 3 year old walks up with his 8 shot nerf gun and opens fire on the TV screen to help you out. THAT is good parenting… or… is it lol??

  48. Stef says:

    My reasons for no guns are a tad more complicated. One, I dislike violent play being modelled for kids… which in my house extends to movies and video games until they are preteens or older.

    Two, my father died of a self inflicted gunshot when I was a teenager so I have panic/fear/can’t breathe reactions when I see hand guns pointed at loved ones, even in play. (My kids quickly learn that the cool ‘pretending to shoot themselves in the head’ thing that their classmates do over homework, chores and anything slightly UNCOOL does NOT fly at our house. Cue the boring lecture about triggers and respect and gunshots to the head not being funny)

    Three, when my son was a toddler, a child at the school my kids CURRENTLY ATTEND found a hand gun in the bushes (where it had been tossed by a supect during an on-foot police chase the night before). We live in a VERY SAFE city. So safe, in fact, that most kids have never ever seen a real gun. So, one five year old picked it up, put his finger on the trigger and promptly shot his friend in the toe. I immediately instigated a strike “guns aren’t toys, not ever, not even a little bit” rule.

    Now, to contrast guns and swords. A gun’s trigger takes, on average 7ppsi (pounds per square inch), to fire. Most handguns are fairly lightweight, with a handle design that is pretty easy to figure out. Most preschoolers are physically able to pick up, hold and fire a handgun (aiming and dealing with the recoil are very different things, I’m simply talking about wrapping their hand around the handle and moving the trigger enough to fire a shot). Conversely, have you ever held a sword? Many are lighter than you’d expect, but they are tricky to lift and maneuver. You have to be able to accommodate the inertia, the changing center of gravity, how it impacts your reach… many of the hilts are cumbersome, even counter intuitive.

    Guns are modern weapons, often used by criminals, who, by definition, don’t follow social contracts… like ‘keep weapons away from children’s play areas’. Swords are archaic weapons. Criminals don’t often have them in hand when running from the cops. Generally, if a child is going to encounter a sword it will be EITHER a: a blunt blade used as decoration or in the sport of fencing, or b: a real, and therefore very expensive, sword owned by a collector.

    A LOT of kids are killed by guns every year. The same cannot be said of swords.

    OK, after that book, I do have to say, the whole proximity thing of toy weaponry is tricky. I can see how pretend guns have an edge over pretend swords. I generally steer my kids away from up close and personal ‘melee’ fighting to the distance fighting of magic wands and spells (thank-you, Harry Potter).

    • Sarah says:

      LOVE this response.

    • Luetta says:

      I raised three typical boys (and two girls). Although I tried to prevent any toy guns in the beginning, this soon went by the wayside due to ingenuity (and dear daddy who wasn’t really on the same page about guns). However, I think teaching rules about guns, like no shooting at another person, may be more reasonable, and prevent accidental shootings with real guns, moreso than prohibiting guns altogether. Water guns are another story entirely; they are way too much fun to prohibit. I would say you should just make sure that they don’t look like the real thing.
      Btw, all my children are totally non-violent as adults:-)

    • woolies says:

      Yes, let’s go with the Harry Potter thing. But wait, Voldemort is evil, and people die by magic spells too.
      Sheesh. Nothing is safe.

    • K says:

      Magic and wands – genius. Need to acquaint my two boys (5 and 7) with Harry Potter ASAP!

  49. Melanie G says:

    lol, my former pre-kid self is judgmental too. i prefer to ignore her.

  50. Robert (Male) says:

    Great post! Kids (especially boys) are fascinated with guns. Since we are on the subject, make sure you all talk to your kids about what to do if they find a real gun. Depending on your child, it might be a good idea to actually let them touch/hold a real unloaded weapon in a safe controlled environment. You don’t want their first exposure to a real weapon to be the one they find under the bed at on a playdate. We took my 6-year old son to a friend who teaches gun safety to learn about guns up close. Now, hopefully, if he ever finds a real gun he will know what to do.

    • Chelsea says:

      Don’t judge me, I have no children (but I love & follow this blog & have little cousins). At first this comment made my jaw drop but after thinking about it the “bubble” scenario can only work for so long and can only be controlled in your own home. Robert is correct; your child’s first real weapon experience might very well be during a play date when you are not in control of what your children are doing. Now it begs the question: Being that children use pretend weapons around 3, is 6 years old already too late?

  51. Tamara Blanch says:

    My son was always making things into guns and swords. In the end I gave in and brought him some, now he has draws full and really only plays with the nerf gun occasionally. He is now 8 and more likely to be swinging around a light sabre and trying to “cut” your hand off. Let me tell you guns and play swords are much better because when the light sabre “cuts” you they hurt.

  52. Anna says:

    And don’t forget…toy swords end up tearing furniture, breaking windows, hitting mommy in the butt and knocking things off of shelves. Guns are much safer!

  53. Emily S. says:

    Plastic straw guns, spatula guns, popsicle sticks, baseball bat guns… most recently they used the tee-ball tee as a bazooka. They’re 3 and 1. 🙂

  54. Deborah says:

    hehehe! i so relate! from the time my now 9 year old son (youngest at that time & with older brothers) went into pre-school and all the way through kindergarten, he would draw detailed battle scenes with stick figures, tanks, jets, spaceships, aliens, etc……(don’t ask how he knew such things exist – ahem) and you would SEE his guns & he would even draw the bullets with a little dashed line tracing the bullet to its target.

    he called the guns…..wait for it……”pow pow things”.

    true story – i could never make THAT up!

  55. Mindy says:

    I hate it when my pre kids self judges me too. She was such a know it all!

  56. Sheri says:

    We have all kinds of weapons in our house, both purchased and homemade. I just have a rule about no weapons at the dinner table.

  57. Alicia says:

    Don’t forget that Lego swords end up being 5376273 Lego peices strewn about the house due to sword fighting. MUCH less of a chance with Lego guns.

  58. Mama-J says:

    My son thought Tampax were swords…. until he learned they had bullets….

  59. Betsi says:

    I kept my boys in the no-gun bubble too. So they started making them and calling them “pewers”, as in the lame gun noise “pew, pew”.

    • Jo says:

      Mine called them “pewers” too! Then recently he started call them “kill-things” which I really don’t like (he’s 4). I’m now in the strange position of trying to decide whether to teach him the word “gun” as a better alternative. Hmmm….I also have a 2 year old boy so I think I’m going to have to resign myself to the idea of toy guns…

  60. cary says:

    I have to disagree. My son’s wooden sword is like his best friend. He never plays with legos or most other toys. Most of his play involves the fantasy world he creates in his head and he encorporates the sword into this. I have seen the sword stand in for most any kind of object you could conceive of… yes, including guns… but also so many other things. Our one rule was he could never physically hit with it and he never has (not that he never hits , he just doesn’t want to lose his prized sword). After six years of play it is worn down and ragged but could never be replaced. He’s even been known to sleep with it. Don’t be do quick to put down the potential value of the sword!

  61. Marcus says:

    So when they are teenagers do you think that not talking about sex will stop them wanting to have it?

    I’m fine teaching the kids how to have sword fights, that you never hot someone without a sword and you don’t hit the head.

    My Mr 4 yr old, routinely has sword fights in play grounds with other strange kids and no incidents yet.

    It’s about education. To pretend it doesn’t happen is to not properly prepare you’re child ford the out side

  62. Sonia says:

    We have a no weapons rule in our house. We don’t buy them, but the kids still make them. They aren’t supposed to and when asked, “It’s a water laser mom”. Sigh, well as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone…..

  63. Sonia says:

    I have all girls (4 of them) but I also run an in-home daycare. I still remember the first boy I cared for turning a toy Nemo into a gun. Come on, Buddy! Not Nemo!

  64. Marny says:

    Wow. Your judgy pre-kid self and my judgy pre-kid self totally could have been BFF!

    The Lego swords and guns cracked me right up because that is EXACTLY what my younger brother used to do in our “no toy guns allowed” household. My mom still recounts that even though we weren’t allowed toy guns of any kind, he would make them out of Lego 😀

    My own rule is simply no toy weapons that actually look like real weapons. Nerf guns, Super Soakers, marshmallow guns (We have one! It’s awesome.) are all okay with me. Basically as long as you couldn’t rob a convenience store with the thing, it’s cool.

  65. Erin says:

    When my oldest son was 2.5, he bit a PB&J into the shape of a gun and pointed it at me. That was when I gave up on my “no weapons” policy. *sigh*

  66. Holly says:

    I know my son will play with toy guns, we live in ND and my family hunts so it will happen. But we teach that you can’t point them at people or pets.

  67. Amanda says:

    No guns for my boys, either. Then one day my 3yo ate his TOAST into the shape of a gun and began making the gun sound that only boys can do, shooting at his baby brother. Seriously, how do they KNOW???

  68. Kate says:

    At some point, I think most moms give up on the weaponry thing. Kids will make weapons, or dad will buy them and bring them home to ‘bond’ with their son. I went from being the ‘no-weapons-in-this-house’ mom to the ‘arms dealer’ mom over the course of my son’s childhood. My now teen aged son (16) has at one point owned every type of toy weapon in existence, and is now into knives and archery (he has a compound bow hanging in his room… and I have a few new holes in my fence).

    Having said that, we learned the hard way to make sure and enforce the wearing of body armor, eye protection, and a MOUTH GUARD when playing with air soft guns. The toy guns were for shooting targets, only. Yet my son still managed to get one of his adult front teeth shattered when his cousin shot him, point blank, in the mouth. This was one week before the start of 6th grade. That ended up being a very expensive dentist visit.

  69. Kate says:

    It’s such a boy thing. My two year old toddler doesn’t know what a sword or gun is, but nevertheless, he loves to use anything and anything to poke, prod, or hit the dog with.

  70. woolies says:

    so then….fast forward to age 15…..boy discovers the world of Airsoft. What is Airsoft, you may ask? It involves guns that shoot pellets. They play war. Grown men play with them.
    I make him use bio-degradable pellets. Good for the earth. While they are killing each other. From far away.

    • K says:

      “Good for the earth. While they are killing each other. From far away.”

      Hah, this made me chuckle. Seems most of us come to a point where we just take what we can get. ‘Oh, you’re killing one another in an environmentally friendly way? Guess it could be worse…’

  71. Summer says:

    Boys never outgrow the need for weaponry. And you know those Nerf swords that can’t really hurt the kids? Well, in the hands of an adult, they sure can hurt! My hubby and his friend stole their kids’ swords and were hacking away at each other, and they both ended up black and blue and laughing about it. I don’t really understand……….

  72. maranda says:

    swords also suck because it gives them extended reach to knock down things i thought i cleverly had put out of their reach.

  73. Samantha says:

    My dad insisted on no guns when we were kids. He also hated when my brother would watch TV lying on his belly. Fast forward 30 years & my bro became an Olympic athlete competing in … prone rifle shooting! Go figure. Dad also banned TV for a year. Didn’t stop me from being an avid TV watcher. Makes me wonder how effective – or maybe ineffective? – my parenting choices will be!

  74. Carmela says:

    I felt the same way about guns = bad, so I never introduced the concept of them to my 4 year old daughter. She’s picked up on the idea somewhere, because several months ago she was “shooting” us with her parrot gun. She has a stuffed parrot she would hold by the feet/legs, and point the head at us and go “pew pew pew”. You’re right, though, better violent from a distance than direct contact with her bopping us on the head with him (using him as a parrot-sword?) – though that would be much more comfortable than getting bopped with Lego swords.

  75. Laurie says:

    (I’m a pre-k teacher) We made dinosaurs at school… my son saw one and said hey cool gun!

  76. Lidia says:

    My boys went out with Daddy the other day and came back with toy grenades. Oops. 🙂

  77. Misty Pratt says:

    LOL, I’m sure you have opened the door to all the crazies out there who will take this post the wrong way, and flood your inbox with outraged emails 🙂 I, on the other hand, thought it was funny. I have no boys (yet), so it’s great to read all about what you do with your little guys!

  78. Aleigh says:

    I don’t actually buy toy weapons, but I don’t have a problem with them. Here’s why: When I was a kid, my brother had a water gun. There was a family with three boys down the street, and those boys were not allowed to play with my brother because he had said water gun. Those three boys grew up and–can you guess?–joined the army. Meanwhile, my brother sells audio-visual equipment and spends his free time watching basketball.

    I don’t exactly think there’s a direct link between having toy guns growing up and NOT joining the army, but it seems to me more productive to focus my energy on the toys I do love than the ones I don’t.

  79. Karen says:

    Whenever Braydon decides to make a sword, someone always gets hurt. It’s a tough call!!

  80. Jodi says:

    I kind of find it fascinating that my son (now 8) used to like guns and swords, but now he draws “comic books” and they always end with the people in them blowing up, either accidentally, or on purpose. Sooooo, I don’t know what bothers me more the fact that he now has a fascination with pyro-technics or that I laugh at his comics because they are actually funny even with the characters always blowing up.

  81. Michelle says:

    My husband is a police officer and firearms instructor. Our three boys all have nerf guns and play guns. Our three year old takes his toy guns to the firing range and shoots targets. All of our boys have fired a gun and enjoy it. We start them at an early age if they are interested. I was raised in a house full of guns with no gun safe. I never touched them unless I asked first but I was never denied when I asked to handle one. We believe that if you kill the curiosity the chances of an accident are much less. We don’t leave them out to be picked up and played with. Ammo and guns are kept in safes or lock boxes on different floors of the house so accidents are very unlikely.

    It isn’t for everyone and I respect parents that choose to keep toy guns and/or real guns out of the house. I just wanted to let you guys know what works for us on this subject.

    To add to that…even with a plethora of nerf guns my boys still make guns and swords with Legos or anything else that will work. Some of the most creative…mulch, toy drill, bread (bitten into the shape of a gun), hands (this is pretty common and happens daily), carrots, kiddie dental floss picks, tv remotes…the list goes on and on

    Have fun with those creative kids ladies! They grow up fast!

    • Amy says:

      I grew up in a house with guns. But I as raised to respect and fear them! Couldn’t tell you where they were kept. My husband was not allowed guns, not even GI Joes! That said I am not a fan of buying toy guns for kids. My sister, whose husband is a Marine, bought some obnoxious noisy guns for her kids (when i was pre-kids) that drove me nuts.
      Today, I do not encourage guns with my own children. However, they are obsessed! Everything is a gun a weapon ! Even more than my sister’s kids who were always allowed Gus. Makes me wonder if I should be more lenient…..but I still find them annoying.

  82. Kirsty Shields says:

    Oh these posts sure make me feel normal with my two boys who could very well be clones of Crappy Baby and Crappy Boy!!! Thank you for making my day 🙂

  83. Curtis says:

    I was the second-to-youngest of six kids (five boys and a girl), so by the time I came along, my parents had pretty much resigned themselves to the notion that kids will play what kids will play, and there’s only so much parents can do to prevent or influence that. I will say, however, that we never had a problem understanding the difference between toy guns and real guns…and one of the reasons why was because my father taught us how to shoot. I grew up with an understanding and respect for what a bullet can do…and while I would have never, in a million years, have fired a real gun at ANYBODY, we were constantly playing War–or Cowboys and Indians–or Cops and Robbers. And we played with the old-school, make-it-as-realistic-as-possible toy guns. None of us grew up homicidal, or accidentally shot anyone, and if any of us had found a real gun in the bushes we knew it was NOT a toy and was only to be used with an adult around.

    We also played with toy swords, too…and getting hurt by one did little to dampen the enthusiasm for it, in the long term. Sure, if someone got smacked in the head with a stick, they’d cry and the game would end (and Dad would likely get involved, much to the dismay of everyone). But the next day, we’d be back out there, going at it again (much to Mom’s dismay…)

  84. Kelly says:

    We have Super Soakers, marshmallow shooters, and Nerf Guns at our house. I have the BIGGEST Nerf gun of all. The one with the tripod. And Rambo-esque ammo sash. And accessory box of even more bullets. I can take my kids out long before they see mommy is locked and loaded. Epic parenting success! 🙂

  85. Natashajk says:

    I lived in a war zone where real guns with real bullets were pointed at me so we have a “no guns” rule in our household. My three year old son has gotten toy soldiers with guns as birthday party loot bag treats and we throw them out explaining that “guns hurt people and we don’t play that way in our house.” I am totally fine with cracking down on this since even toy guns being pointed at me make me nauseous.

    I don’t judge how other people handle this situation but in our family that is the rule and we will be sticking to it.

    My son however does get confused as to why “guns” are bad but “price guns” and “screw guns” are okay. It’s a complicated world out there 🙂

    • Betsy says:

      I live in a neighborhood where half the neighbors are from war-torn countries like Bosnia, Eritrea, and Vietnam. I always feel bad for folks during 4th of July when the other half of the neighbors set off an entire arsenal of illegal fireworks.

      • Natashajk says:

        It took me about two years of being home again to be able to watch fireworks without shaking in fear. And unexpected, loud noises still make me jump and it’s been ten years.

        I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who were forced to flee their homes because of war.

  86. Alice Rudin says:

    We had a “no weapons household” for so long! Star Wars did us in. I blame my husband. He did us in. Now it’s all weapons all the time.

  87. Debi says:

    I have always been an anti- toy weapons mom. Then my kids discovered Star Wars. And I let myself be convinced by my hubby that light sabers are not really weapons, since they technically don’t exist in real life. Now, we have similar situation to yours with swords- every child has a light up light saber, and they are constantly hitting each other. I regret giving in to even non-existant toy weapons!

  88. Betsy says:

    I knew things had really gotten loose around my house when the big boy and his friends were playing their 9 millionth video game and I said “Why don’t you go do something outside like make a fire in the driveway or something? Just stay away from the car.” Yes, I am That Mom. The one who says, “You found a garter snake? excellent. Get out the old fish tank and make a terrarium.” “You want a chick? great. use the spare bathtub.” “You’re bored? go dig a hole in the garden, or make a fire in the driveway.” And yet, people keep letting their children play here… no accounting for bad parental judgement, I guess.

    • Lacey says:

      My son is only 14 months, but I will probably be that mom too 😉 I grew up in the woods, digging pit-houses, bringing home wild-life and making fires (although ONLY in fire-approved areas. I would have been whooped if I’d lit a fire anywhere it could spread). There are worse things….

  89. Amanda says:

    I’m not against guns. My dad had guns when I was growing up, if anything he taught me to respect them and NEVER ever play with them. There was even a golden rule that your life was pretty much over if he found you near them without him around. Now that I have a son and he’s Grandpa he’s purchased a gun safe and it’s a severe penalty to touch that for my son now.

    We have a few little “gun” toys, water guns and nerf guns. He always gets to keep those. He has had two knights swords and the light saber his uncle bought him confiscated for swinging and hitting people/animals/plants/TVs…

  90. C8lyn says:

    Yikes! You folks in the US of A are scarily desensitized to guns. Suggest if you don’t want kids to play with guns move to a far away country where guns are illegal, like Australia.
    When I was a kid I had no interest in guns and cap guns freaked me out anyway.
    Sorry think guns are very bad because they kill people. I think the closest a kid should get to a gun is several hundred km’s and gun safety? Rule 1 never EVER touch a gun, ever.
    Killing each other at a safe distance – priceless!

    • amber says:

      So all I have to do to put them back in the bubble is move to Australia? I better start packing! lol

    • notamomyet says:

      obviously not a country kid? Country kids had the craziest gun stories! This is Australia as well!

      Of course you have to have a super-valid reason for having a gun here- like “I’m a farmer” or “I’m a hunter”. And they MUST be locked up when not in use.

  91. Melissa says:

    Lol, the pics are cute. And I see your point. It *is* a hot topic, isn’t it. Yet, I find it more appealing than urine. 😉

    I’ve managed to keep mine in the bubble. The eldest is 9 and won’t have a bar of any kind of games that include any form of weaponary. Love him.

    I suspect my 4 year old though, will fall for it when he starts school. I still won’t be buying or allowing it in my home, but I don’t think he’s going to be as much a pacifist as his brother.

  92. MotherOfBean says:

    Thoroughly agree C8lyn – love the way we Aussies rarely have our children exposed to guns (except on TV)! That said, it was quite a challenge to explain to Bean (miss 4) what her Air Force father was carrying in a photograph taken during his time serving in the middle east, and why. Tricky.
    The main story I wanted to tell however, was when my neice (who has no toy guns, even though her father used to hunt game) came across an alarmingly noisy toy gun at a friend’s house. She promptly pointed it at her own head. Then later pointed it at her mothers head. We finally worked out that she was playing make believe with what she thought was a hair dryer. 🙂

  93. Cheryl says:

    You forgot sticks. Every stick is a sword. It’s in the boy manual that someone forgot to give me. Also, as a tangent, every rock must be thrown. Must.

  94. Jen H says:

    Swords suck. So do lightsabers, by the way. A friend’s son was really into them when he was 10 years old. He used to talk me into playing lightsabers, which involved him whacking at me and sometimes hitting me with them. Bruises were involved.

  95. Yup. Boys turn everything into guns. If you can’t beat them, but them a gun. Wait…don’t beat your kids either…

  96. Cerissa H. says:

    Lightsabers hurt too!

  97. Zohreh says:

    My friend’s children would bite their sandwiches into little gun shapes. There’s no escaping it!

  98. Sara says:

    A friend of mine is a cartoonist and father to 2 boys. This was his interpretation of the issue –

  99. Emmers says:

    My mom thought like that when she had her first boy (I was about eleven at the time) – she did her utmost to keep him from all gun-like items and toy guns were absolutely forbidden.

    But she gave up the crusade completely the morning he chewed his toast into a gun shape and started shooting us all at the breakfast table. 😛

  100. Didn’t you grow up with the hunting culture in Wisconsin? I am a Wisconsin transplant but guns are a big deal in my American life (husband and I both hunt and my kids all will too – they just can’t wait to be big/old enough).

  101. This is another reason why my kids are never compelled to point guns at each other – they are darn serious about where a gun is to be pointing (in the safe directions).

  102. Melissa says:

    I hate when the weaponry exposure sneaks up on you unexpectedly. I’d love it if my 3 year old didn’t know what a gun was. Then all of a sudden we’re reading Little Red Riding Hood and at the very end, in comes the hunter about to shoot the wolf until he decides instead to slit open his belly with a hunting knife. WHAT?! I didn’t see that coming! I’m not quick enough to improvise an alternate ending and my kid is perceptive enough to garner this from the pictures anyway.

  103. Kate says:

    I saw the most amazing thing on my way to the store today. Two little boys, with cardboard shields they obviously made and decorated themselves and cardboard swords. They were very elaboratly designed and obviously took alot of thought. The two boys were running and jumping all over the yard playing with their swords and shields. I would much rather see them playing with cardboard swords and using their imagination than sitting inside watching TV.

  104. Heh, I like toy guns, but I get that not everyone does. Toy swords are awesome though! Real ones are even better! (I just turned eighteen, and I got one for my birthday… YES!)
    But yeah, when my three-year-old niece hits her one-year-old brother in the head… things are not sunshine and roses.

  105. Layla says:

    My older son didn’t know the word either, but he sure knew the technology! He put together TRIO blocks into an L-shape and ran into the kitchen, and yelled, “This is my… boomer. I’m gonna… bang… it’s ouchie!” Really?!? Wondering if 200 years ago, Gatling’s mama was dealing with the same thing. :/

  106. Jessi says:

    I haven’t made guns taboo nor do I buy him toy guns or let im watch gun-things but somehow the 3 year old is shooting perfect strangers with his finger…where does this come from????

  107. Amie says:

    I’m not real enthusiastic about guns, but I haven’t banned them either. Like others, my son has been pretending things were guns long before he knew what a gun was.

    We do have a rule though that you can’t shoot at people who are not playing the game – like random kids on the playground. When it is part of a whole story they are playing together, it is part of imaginative play. But when my son’s very gun obsessed friend started aggressively chasing my 2 yr old daughter around and shooting at her so she wouldn’t try to play with them, she was very upset. That’s when I have to say no to the gun games.

  108. Nicole says:

    One other difference between nerf guns and swords – somehow the guns seem to breed. I’m not sure yet how this is possible but I may need to supervise my husband more closely while shopping. Unfortunately I only have myself to blame as I made the mistake of starting the obsession by getting my 28 yr old husband nerf guns for his birthday. My house has been covered in foam darts and bullets ever since. And I live in Australia so the bubble is definitely popped here…

    • Shari says:

      Nicole – I sympathise… i can see this in my future…. I think my hubby can see it in his future much earlier than I can…. *sigh*

  109. Ellie says:

    Precisely. And that was exactly what was running through my mind while I was waiting for your page to come up – I prefer swords aesthetically and from a lame, woolly liberal POV – but my 4 yo son is already picking up sticks and trying to thwack us with them, claiming to be ‘Mike the Knight’ (a UK bbc children’s character, who does NOT hit with swords, incidentally). He’s also discovering guns, in the form of Zurg The Evil Emperor’s blaster, and tbh, I think I’d prefer fantasy laser blasters to hard swords any day. Being a nice, dutiful ‘crafty mummy’, I helped him make a knight’s shield, and then a cardboard, foil-covered sword (bendy, see?) – but he much prefers improvising.

  110. Sarah Ransom says:

    As an Army wife, I never even considered toy guns an issue. They just are a part of our life. But now that I read this, I’m glad my kids enjoyed playing Army instead of 3 Musketeers!!!

  111. nikki says:

    I have to say I think boys are ingrained with what guns, swords and autos do and how they work. My sone knew what a gun did and sounded like before he could form sentences. We did not let him watch tv or go to a preschool where he could pick it up he just knew!

  112. Ela says:

    My son is 1 y.o. so it is too early to tell stories about this. But I did some research in the matter of battle games, guns, swords. It seems it is in their nature to play this kind of games and prepares them to be real men in life. Psychologists now recommend to let kids play this sort of games and let them build or have toy guns, swords, because it is the only way they can learn fiction out of reality. Their game is their game and at that age fiction is an important element of development, reality is reality – and they can learn to separate them.
    If they are not allowed to play and kept in a bubble, it will be harder for them to make the difference and their passion for violence may burst out more intense.

  113. Annie says:

    I’m not sure where he picked this up, but my son has a bo staff. He wields tree limbs twice his size in a way that is both amazing and terrifying. And while he does have toy guns (lovingly purchased by his aunt, who decided they were the loudest, most obnoxious toy she could possibly get), he has never hit the car, or cat, or pots with it. So I’m with you. Guns are way better.

  114. Robonanny says:

    My son got really into guns and swords when he was about three (it was the pirate phase) and I explained that I don’t like real guns and swords as real people use them to hurt others, and it makes me sad when my son gets hurt.

    A couple of energetic swordfighting games with a particularly hyper friend later, he reached the same conclusion. Now he’s smarter about picking his opponents (it didn’t stop him completely!) and the more-high-energy friends get invited to play rugby or football: result!

  115. Shari says:

    I hate guns/swords. Was horrified when Master 3 & 3/4’s found a samuri type sword in a show bag we bought for him. It was plastic and bendy… but it did some damage. It was duly confiscated. i went to pick him up from daycare earlier this week. All other kids were outside playing. HRH was standing on the balcony with a short handled broom – which he was using as a gun and making shooting noises at the other kids and staff…. OMFG – where does this stuff come from???? Why was my kid the only one doing this?? Am I raising a deviant???

    • LiteralDan says:

      Nope, although soon enough, a “normal” healthy kid will be so far deviated from the new norm, that technically, I guess, he would be a deviant. Don’t worry about it, you’ll laugh about it soon enough!

  116. Jana Gauvey says:

    Oh, we actually BUY our son the swords at Renn fest each year. The wooden ones. We are idiots.

    In our defense, he was an only child until last year and his favorite pastime for using the sword is popping bubbles outside.

  117. Jenny says:

    I am very anti guns and swords and I have a strict no shooting rule in my house there are no shooting video games and there was never guns or swords in my house… I guess I am a bit bias as my father committed suicide – with a gun. I tend not to tell people this as it freaks people out but the whole gun issue goes away when I say it… I know this is a fun site so I don’t want to get all preachy… 🙂 But my father always had a gun he was in the military and I was raised around guns … not the back hills go shoot my self some dinner type – but the typical middle class suburban family with a hand gun for protection type.

    My son and daughter were always trying to use a sword or a pretend gun to pretend shoot and pretend fight – but I preferred the swords to the guns – a sword hurts and once you feel how it hurts you stop doing it… a gun is just as you said pretend killing – and that pretendness (is that even a word) then leads to complacency that a gun really is just a toy it doesn’t hurt…just like the ones in the video games.

    So I preferred to let my kids have the swords and let them beat each other senseless – this way they didn’t play with them again – I let them shoot each other to – like with a non lethal gun of course like a bee bee gun or a really big water gun – I know that sounds harsh but it worked it showed them that guns really do hurt…

    I guess I never grew out of my pre-child no gun rule – it just hit to close to home so again I guess I am a bit bias.

  118. Lauren says:

    I totally avoided guns and swords with my first born and yet he somehow still new how to make a gun of various toys, even without ever really seeing one. The worst is when the boys get seriously into Star Wars and then everything is a light saber.

  119. Mary says:

    In my house, it’s not swords, really, it’s Light Sabers. And Light Sabers are just like swords. My own crappy boy fashions everything into a light saber or a magic wand, legos, pencils, drumsticks. Regardless, when he’s not slashing his sister or the dog with his light saber, he is running around waving the magic wand a la Harry Potter… How we haven’t already had a trip to the ER is anyone’s guess!

  120. Lydia says:

    Like urine? LMAO

  121. hillary says:

    Oh man. I have a 6 year old girl who of course has never bitten her toast in the shape of anything except hearts and flowers. Possibly a smiley face. And now I’m pregnant and kinda terrified that the new baby could end up being a boy. My nephew, when he was 18 months old, made a gun out of the vacuum cleaner attachments…and his parents have NO IDEA how he was exposed to the idea of guns in any fashion. It’s like it was built into his DNA.

  122. Andrea says:

    Being a girl-mom I have no idea about that kind of stuff. My girls don’t use weapons. They just argue and act like miniature hormonal teenagers despite having many years to go before they get there. A completely different dimension of annoyance.

  123. Janina says:

    A dainty four year old girl taught my three year old boy about guns. Shooting sounds and all. So far, the result has been almost educational; he took a foam “E”, and squeezed it, squeeling “eeee! eeee! ” like a ray gun.

  124. SeriousCakes says:

    A few years ago we were having a Star Wars birthday party for my daughter and my husband discovered he could make safe light sabers for them. You know those noodles that kids use to swim with? Some of them are kind of ribbed, if you cut along the ribbing then wrap duct tape around the bottom it looks like a light saber! And I have to say it is close to impossible for kids to hurt themselves with these. Oh, here’s a site showing what I’m talking about:

  125. Helen Neale says:

    I have the same view on guns, though lego ones are again in vogue in our house; so we went with light sabers…go figure – same proximity issue – same yawling – oops…

  126. Modern Mom says:

    Thanks for the tip! We will be sticking to “guns” as well. Right now they just point fingers at each other and make magical, space-age sounds. They have no idea why other kids in the park do this. Ahhh… the bubble has not yet been breached.

  127. Julie says:

    Grateful I have a daughter … or maybe I’m just naive and this is all in my future too (she’s only 16 months) … yikes.

  128. Becky says:

    I don’t remember my daughter ever making a gun out of anything. My son’s first “gun” was a cashew. He held onto the smaller end and pointed the fatter end at me. He had had no exposure to guns, that I was aware of. He was 2 or 3. He has made countless items into “guns” ever since. He’s now 5 1/2.

  129. erica says:

    Cinderella is a girl and she has weapons too. Wands can be swords. Barbies can be swords. Her father buys her water guns and “pig poppers” which shoot balls out of the pig’s mouth. It is a dangerous time around here.

  130. Gabriele says:

    I recently relented and bought my teen and tween daughters nerd guns. I had one rule: No soothing in the car while mom is driving. This rule was broken withIn the first 15 minutes at a stop light…by me. But technically I wasn’t driving…

  131. Gabriele says:

    Autocorrect bites again…

  132. Jocelyn Stover says:

    no judgement here! we feel its really important that our kids understand how to use guns and weapons properly and to RESPECT them from an early age. Id rather teach them myself than let them learn from “cool kids” or relatives or stupid gangster movies. They have all had bowie knives, pen knives, machetes, bb guns, paintball guns, and bows and arrows since they were old enough to ask for them, and so far, no injuries! (they are 11, 13, and 15 now) currently we are trying to figure out when its appropriate to teach our girl (11 yrs old) how to use a slapjack or mace….shes built like me at only 11 and the boys are all sniffing around : (

  133. Kate L says:

    I will have my first baby in July, so I love reading this blog and the comments to see all of the fun things I have to look forward to. My father-in-law is VERY much into guns. He is a ranking member of the NRA and has a gun safe that is bigger than my daughter’s nursery. As a gift…for my unborn daughter…he had a gun made that is pink and says her name on it in beautiful scrolling letters. I was HORRIFIED!! It is a real gun. He even provided bullets and a case. I am confident I will change my mind about many parenting decisions, but what in the heck is a newborn supposed to do with a real gun. He has been talking about taking his first blood-related grandchild hunting since the day we told him I was pregnant, but though I know little about hunting, I don’t think anyone hunts with a handgun. He even suggested that we have her take newborn pictures with the gun. I had to laugh out loud at this. He is a very nice man…

  134. Janine says:

    My princessy princess daughter started shooting her playthings when they had bad manners. When she was two. I also kept her in a bubble. Where did she learn about guns? From going to see the Nutcracker.

  135. Karen says:

    My 3 boys grew up in a bubble (since popped). When the oldest was about 5 he was randomly nibbling on a slice of toast and began looking at it intently. I looked over and noticed that it was “pistol” shaped. He smiled and said, “look Mommy, it’s a drill!” Score 1 for the bubble!

  136. Ancy says:

    My son who is now 5 has been making “guns” since he was at least 2 1/2- he even does this thing with his tongue that makes it sound like a machine gun- I have yet to figure out exactly how. I also have the “no guns” rule in the house but I think he may have picked it up from his father’s (and mine- I’ll admit it) favorite shows and movies.

    Mind you- my daughter now 2, has been making the same machine gun noise since she was about 21 months. How she learned how to do it, I still don’t know. She is a bona fide drama queen and princess of the land (I have a son and 2 nephews whom she rules over), but she can hold her own in any fight, including gun fights, when needed! 🙂

  137. Laura says:

    haha. We taught my almost 3 yo how to “sword fight” this morning. She’s been running around with a baseball bat yelling “Swords! Swords!! Swords!!!!!!” most of the afternoon.

    We used to play “Teenage mutant ninja turtles” with my mom’s “good” couch pillows with one of our favorite (male) babysitters. Until one day we finally busted open the pillows…. Kids will find ANY reason to hit each other.

  138. I don’t mind guns so much anymore, but I do hate the shooting sounds they make with their mouths. The explosions. The “pow-pow”, the repetitive pinging noise that goes on and on and on and on and on. Then I say intelligent things like this, “Stop swinging your Iguanadon by the tail.” Oh wait, that’s another scenario of boy-type play. So confused. 🙂

  139. Annie says:

    Haha – I’m exactly the same way! I was super judgmental about it when my kids were babies and now I get it. We don’t have toy guns in our house but the kids make them out of everything!

  140. christine says:

    i have two daughters. so i get magic fairy spells put on me. we have wands and only a few times have they ever been used as weapons.
    sounds safe but its never safe for me. they put the freeze and sleep spell on my and the next thing i know im being bounced on and someones foot or elbow pokes my eye and someone is bouncing on my butt. not to metion the migrain level ear pearcing screaming they do at point blank range and wtf is up with hair pulling and boobie punching??. girls are very dangerous.

  141. Kathy says:

    Boys have a natural instinct to protect and conquer. They need the opportunity to practice that while they’re young. Personally, I love rough and tumble, get-down-and-dirty little boys. If I wanted something soft and sweet to lay in my lap all day, I’d get a kitten!

  142. Oh gosh, I never even thought of this. Lucas laid his his hand to my face for the first time last week. He’s 16 months, it was for no good reason at all. I guess he’s a boxer.

  143. Erin says:

    I’ve given in to the sword-thing on my terms. I cut a pool noodle in half and let them go at it. I have yet to have an owie from the noodle. (Of course, my kiddos are 2 and 6. They aren’t strong enough for good wacking.

  144. Jennifer says:

    My two brothers and I were not allowed to have any weapon-y toys, outside of the occasional water gun. (Oh, how we wanted light sabers!) Guess what? Those plastic Hot Wheels tracks make a fantastic weapon, and hurt like a bitch…

  145. 100%, totally agree with you, amber. there’s safety in distance, especially if you have 3-year-old and 6-year-old boys, like me. 🙂

  146. Shelly says:

    My four year old son (he has two older brothers and one younger brother), was so excited at the pool the other day he says to me “mummy! Guess what I found?” then he pulls his hands out of the water pointing a finger on each hand with thumb up and says “I’ve got TWO guns, POW, POW!”. Trust me…before kids I was a preschool teacher, that thought i would never have guns, weapons ect ect in my house. Now I have four boys and there is always a way to make a weapon, even out of nothing. And if they don’t make a weapon they just wrestle each other to the ground, I’m still not sure what is safer….

  147. Bronwyn says:

    Being from South Africa, guns have always been a sore topic for me so I’ve tried in vain to keep my boy from playing with them. The other day I overheard him saying to his friend who had made a gun, ‘don’t point it at people or animals. Mum doesn’t like guns’ which made me smile. You have explained boys and guns exactly! And I agree, swords are so much more dangerous!

  148. Audrey says:

    I blame Barbie and the three musketeers for turning my sweet girls girl into a sword welding maniac. Lol.
    So far no guns though at 5 & 7.

  149. Cindy says:

    Boys will be boys. And it might be a generalization. But its true. I have never bought my son, at 3.5 years old, a gun. But one day he came home from daycare saying “pew pew!” at me with his ‘hand gun’. And now sticks too. They’ll use anything! But as you say, toy guns are less dangerous than toy swords. He’s now got a “lightsaber” though. So far his baby sister has not been killed by it.

  150. rachel says:

    i SO could have written this post. word. for. word. right down to the legos, and the older kid not knowing the word gun… yup. all of it. it is SO true.

  151. Jennifer says:

    When people ask what my son likes I tell them weapons. Any kind of weapon. He LOVES them. We didn’t teach him that love. He came out of the womb with it. If your kid loves weapons then they will turn everything they can into a weapon. You might as well go ahead and get them.

  152. Mandy says:

    Ahh the bubble… Ours blew up on us now my 5 yr old shoots everything with any made up gun he could find, now his 1yro sister does the same… I wish he could teach her how to use the potty lol

  153. Heidi says:

    My 6-year-old will make a gun with his fingers, and when I give him “the look”, he will turn his fingers upward and say “no…it’s a check mark! Check!” Guns AND lies! yay!

  154. Erin says:

    ha ha, my oldest didn’t know enough about guns at age 5 or 6 to even speak about them correctly, saying, “he shotted somebody with a gun!” she also didn’t know what an ice cream truck was and called it “the noise truck.” yes, living in a bubble!

  155. carley says:

    hahaha… so funny!!. My kids were into swords for the longest time and have just moved onto guns, and i totally agree, it’s much less dangerous!!! They go on “hunting missions“ for dangerous animals so they aren`t even shooting each other, it`s awesome!!

  156. Jill R. says:

    I remember when my MIL bought my then 3-year-old son his first toy gun, when she was babysitting him for the day. I must have had a look of extreme consternation on my face when I picked him up, because he quickly said, “It’s ok, Mom! I’m only allowed to shoot at Targets and Walmarts!” Ha!

  157. Jill R. says:

    AND I bought inflatable swords for my son’s pirate-themed birthday party, thinking that a bunch of six-year-olds couldn’t possibly injure each other with blow-up swords. Was. I. Ever. Wrong.

  158. Evelyn says:

    My darling, precious, innocent daughter called guns “poomers” until she was five. Because that was the sound her Lego guns made–poom, poom, poom.
    Now my son is obsessed with knights and swords and horses–all of which are called “lellow!” around here.

  159. Lisa says:

    My 4 year old daughter was talking about guns one day so I asked her what she thought a gun was. She said “It’s something that you squirt water with”. Awwwwwwww 🙂

  160. LiteralDan says:

    I think the inventor of the crossbow was a grown-up 5-year-old boy who was ecstatic to finally have a real handheld weapon to send objects flying at things to hit and/or kill (as needed).

    I bet time has erased many paintings of cave men shooting ray guns at wild predators, aliens, and “bad guys”. The unbidden ideas may have confused or frightened primitive man for many lifetimes, but it would all make sense in time, and we would be at peace. (Or, more happy when killing each other, or pretending/practicing to, I suppose.)

  161. Jane says:

    Oh man… My 2 year old just started pulling out a finger gun and shooting us up. Not sure where he learned it and I’m trying to figure out how to address it. I’m not exactly a lover of guns (even pretend), but I am a lover of my little boy and his enjoyment.

  162. Lynn says:

    My mother was a school teacher and when my older brother was young she, too, tried to keep toy guns at bay. That is, until the day that he bit his cookie into the shape of a gun. She said she had a good laugh at herself and her ideas about being a super perfect parent and then decided to appreciate his creativity. It’s one of my favorite stories because, as parents, of course we think we can protect our kids from potentially harmful things or even things we perceive to be harmful. Also, excellent lesson about how your parenting ideals can also get in the way of reality. You can’t keep kids and toy weaponry from finding one another… you just can’t.

  163. Julie says:

    I’m totally with you on the guns vs swords. But don’t you get the “Mom! He’s pointing his gun at me!” fights? I can’t seem to win…

  164. I felt the same way about toy guns! I would never let MY kids have them! Ya right! They do just make guns from everything! I gave up. he now has a toy nerf gun and 3 water guns…

  165. Mike says:

    I buy my four year son toy swords and teach him to fence with them. Nerf swords are awesome. No injuries, burn off that four year old energy, and it’s FUN.

    Get over it, people. No kids want to play “conscientious objectors and draft protesters.” They want to play Army and Cops and Robbers and knights, and Ninjas, and superheroes. None of this means they will grow up to torture detainees at a black site or become a serial killer.

    They are going to try to whack one another with something. It can be a stick from the front lawn, or an Optimus Prime toy or a Nerf sword.

    Never seen an eye put out with a Nerf sword.

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  167. The name of the curved blade swords which replaced them was Tachi. The reason for this transformation was samurai found that a curved sword could be drawn from the scabbard more swiftly and provided a far more effective cutting angle.

  168. Chandra says:

    I <3 this comic so much, and figured I'd better tell you so as I find myself passing the link on (again).

    Added warning — my husband was denied all gun toys as a child. Now he does this: Not the outcome his mother was looking for, I'm thinking. 😉

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