When I was a kid, my parents, being progressive forward-thinking types, wouldn’t buy me toy guns. My grandmother was untroubled by such scruples and gave me a huge, shiny, cap-firin’ six-shooter. We do things differently now.
Whenever you indulge in gender stereotyping, you’re apt to be wrong; having acknowledged that, it seems to me that little boys’ urge to fire things at each other is part of them, as much as their knees or noses.
At some early birthday party my son, now 11, got a Nerf gun; now he has a substantial collection. There may be some who don’t know about these large brightly-colored plastic objects, which shoot little soft-tipped nerf darts with remarkable zip and accuracy.
Some of the guns are very impressive; they come with a variety of barrel configurations and propulsion mechanisms. There’s even one that comes with a Nintendo Wii game; not just a throwaway, either, the kids played it for hours.
My feelings are complex; there’s uncomfortable baggage that goes with the notion of the kids pointing mock firearms at each other and pulling the trigger. On the other hand, well, it’s a blast. Yep, I play too. Whereas I can’t quite match the boys’ lightning dodge-behind-the-bookcase technique, I have unequaled sniper skillz; have been known to thread the needle between the bedpost and the mattress to nail my quarry.
Nerf... I hope it’s a good thing.