I enjoy watching my daughter play. Some of the things she plays with are Barbies, Legos, Polly Pockets, stuffed animals, board games and various electronic gadgets.
After observing her, it has occurred to me on several occasions that play is training for the future. A little girl might play with dolls to learn about caring for younger children, or a toy chainsaw to learn how to cut down an evergreen. A little boy might play with blocks to learn how to build, or a toy car to understand how to drive. Think about even a kitten or puppy with a ball. They are learning how to catch prey.
As adults, we still play. Our toys are just bigger (and usually more expensive). We will pay big money to escape our normal life and just play for a little while.
When I was a boy, I played with toys like Star Wars, G I Joes, Blocks, Hot Wheels, and airplanes. I also loved playing with guns. Cap guns, dart guns (foam), and just plain inanimate plastic guns.
If a manufactured toy gun was not available, my brother and I would make a gun out of anything that resembled the shape. A mini war could break out at any time, at any place.
I see now that the toy guns that I had when I was a boy helped start to train me for being a responsible gun owner now. All the “war” games we had back then prepared me with a different mindset than someone who never touched a toy gun. Firearms are not terrible, fearful objects, but tools that are to be respected and used wisely. In the sporting context, they are meant to even be…..well, fun.
Even the military calls some of their training “war games”. They spend millions (if not billions) to play at battle. It may feel like fun to them, but it is actually training.
With all this in mind, I’m glad my parents encouraged me to “train” with toy guns. Some would now categorize their parenting in this area as criminal. I’m glad I wasn’t completely walled off from all that had to do with anything remotely violent. I’m glad they bought me a cap gun.