Worrying about gun-shaped Pop-tarts

When I see in the news that a second-grader has been suspended from school for biting a pastry into the shape of a gun, I worry that my children may never make it to third grade.
It’s not that our sons are obsessed with guns.
It’s just that they’re boys. They want to be superheroes and defeat the bad guys. And even though they know superheroes don’t use guns, our preschoolers can’t spin webs or fly or breathe underwater. So naturally they look for something to make them feel powerful. And sometimes that means creating a weapon.
We don’t buy them toy guns. We don’t need to. Any child can make a toy gun out of Legos or Trios or a finger or a Pop-tart.

If I try to ban a gun our sons have made, it becomes a “bow and arrow.” Or they tell me it just shoots water or bubble gum.
I want our sons to be loving and peaceful. I don’t want them to hurt anyone with a gun or anything else. But if ever there were a losing battle, it may just be our family’s war on toy guns.
The more we talk against guns, the more our boys’ curiosity grows.
“Mama and Baba no like guns!” our 3-year-old will say in his authoritative way. And then he’ll build another.
So, as our society is understandably getting more gun shy, here in our family we are trying to find the right approach. We discourage the boys from pointing toy guns at each other or anyone else. We encourage them to build rockets and airplanes instead. But the guns keep cropping up. And I suspect that because there aren’t rules and restrictions on anything else they make, guns are especially appealing.
Maybe I shouldn’t bother talking to the boys about guns at all.
Maybe I should just make sure we pick a school that will care more about helping my child learn and grow than about sending some zero-tolerance message on anything remotely resembling a gun.
Or maybe I should just start a savings account for the legal bills that an elementary school student is likely to encounter today.
After all, a child doesn’t even need to bite a Pop-tart to find food that looks like a gun. A cheese curl, a pickle, a pretzel stick, or a million other foods could become “guns” without much effort or creativity.
That’s it. From now on, we’re only packing soup for lunch—and they’ll just have to eat it without a spoon.
How do you handle toy guns in your household? Do you have any advice to share?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.