In my house, we pretty much eshew weapons of all sorts. Water guns, toys guns, toy swords, these are never bought and if given, they soon mysteriously disappear. Yet I find that despite my efforts, my boys find their own creative ways of making and playing with weapons: the carve swords and make guns out of paper and tape and they like to play out battles and wars.
Lately, my oldest has gotten interested in Roman battles and all my boys have started to ask questions about World War II. They’re obsessed with “who won” and “who lost.” Marc and I are doing our best to field these questions and talk about peace, kindness, and the tragedy of war. To be honest, Marc’s a lot more up for the task than me — I don’t even have my facts straight.
Last weekend, after overdosing on Easter candy at home and then a long mass at Church with another egg hunt, I decided my best bet was keeping the clan out of the house for a long stretch. So I decided to take our oldest four to the Metropolitan Museum. Daddy and Marielle dropped us off and went to wash the car — on Easter Sunday!, what troopers — and I headed inside the museum with Hedley, Lachlan, Beckett and Annaliese. Although the Met is one of my favorite places on Earth, we rarely go. No excuse since it’s only 10 minutes away via the bus.
Here we all are upon entering into the Great Hall. We played at being statues. Notice Beckett with the water bottle — very a modern NYC statue, right? Everyone took this assignment very seriously. See their straight faces.
Up to the desk to buy our tix and guess what is showing? A huge exhibit as part of the museum’s Arms and Armor Department. The boys are nodding their heads and I’m thinking, on Easter Sunday? That’s not very peaceful… and I’m dreading spending the next hour explaining how guns are bad and we should never hurt anyone.
We enter into the Arms and Armor Court. Here are the children in front of armor for soldiers and horses too:
The exhibit turned out to be impressive, spanning centuries and many different cultures. As a mother, my challenge was how to talk about these glorious-looking weapons. I hadn’t thought too much before about how one goes about teaching children about war, so for me this was a good way to start. As we looked at the weapons, I said that they were used in battle, but that they were also decorative art forms and part of ceremonies and parades, and that artisans took great care in designing and crafting them.
I said that violence is what we always try to avoid – through talking and listening to others — but that it’s part of history and the world and we need to learn about it to learn how to avoid it.
Here are the boys admiring a gun of silver and wood with accompanying shield:
We combed through the galleries and saw arms and armor from throughout history, including armor worn by Henry the VIII on one of his last battles that had been made in Italy, partially out of leather — amazing.
The boys were a bit peeved when Annaliese had to go to the bathroom and we had to exit the exhibit and find our way there — that was an adventure onto itself:
On the way back, we took a brief rest by one of the many glorious fountains:
Then, we made our way back to a few more display cases:
Not exactly what I had in mind for our museum trip, but it captured the boys’ imaginations and they headed home to have another one of their battles with paper swords. One word I never heard during the entire visit was “boring.” I made sure there was a truce by dinner time because Mommy needed all hands on deck to snap the beans for Easter dinner.
May this Spring bring your family peace, love and freedom from battles and fights of all sorts, big and small.
Love, Melissa xoxoxo
How do you all deal with your kids and their desire to play with weapons or emulate violence? Please share your stories below — I would love to hear them!