Our drive home from the orthodontist turned into an impromptu art class.
For some inexplicable reason, Boy #3 brought along some modeling clay. He crafted a bullet out of his clay and showed it to his brothers, who promptly told him everything that was wrong with it (“it doesn’t even have a primer pan”). They, of course, declared they could do better. Soon, all three of them were crafting projectiles out of clay.
Boy #2 made a shotgun shell. Boy #1 created a musket ball, which he deemed the most realistic, since musket balls WERE essentially round balls. Not to be outdone, I promised to blow them away by crafting a .22 when we arrived home. (Yes, I simply made a “22” out of clay. They did not appreciate my humor.)
The whole incident got me thinking about boys and the many ways our society restricts boy behavior. Would my boys have been allowed to create clay bullets at school? I doubt it. For understandable reasons, schools no longer allow weapons of any kind — even in play. Boys who write stories with violent themes are referred for psychological counseling. Games such as King of the Mountain are disallowed.
Boys, though, are drawn to these things. Most boys have an innate fascination with weaponry and most boys have a desire to test their strength and courage against other boys. Boys have a natural tendency toward competition. Boys think, wonder and fantasize about war.
That doesn’t mean that the boys in question actually want to blow each other’s heads off; it just means that they’re learning how to make sense of those impulses. It means they’re exploring ideas. It means they’re growing.
What do our boys lose when we forbid them from all expressions of violence? When we tell them what their stories can and cannot be about? Do they not learn that there’s something wrong with them, at the core?
Today, I was glad my boys were home, free to craft in clay.