I love Jesus and my boys play first person shooter games.
There, I said it.
I’m pretty sure some of you have instant thoughts about that and I’d like you to keep reading. Please? Because when I had littles with the blondest little ragamuffin hair and tiny chiclet teeth and the biggest blue eyes I was quite certain they would never play first person shooter games. But here we are and I’m trying to be brave in saying it so, hear me out? (And insert how you felt about that formula commercial regarding mommy wars, m’kay?)
Was this my dream for my boys? That they’d grow up wanting to play war games? No. But also, sort of?
When I was a kid we played cops and robbers for hours. We had sheriff badges and cowboy boots and pretend guns. Which we aimed directly at each other. We had bandanas tied around our necks or covering our faces, depending which role we were playing. We had some sort of rope to tie each other up when we were caught and if we got shot and didn’t fake die the most dramatic fake death possible then it was almost certain you didn’t get to play the next time.
So did I dream of them shooting people? Not exactly. But did I imagine they’d have a childhood similar to mine? Yeah, kind of. And this involved fake weaponry.
I get that might be a bit of a stretch for some of you. Sure. But we dress our kids up like pirates too, right? Maybe have it as a birthday party theme. (I’ve seen the plates and napkins at the dollar store so SOME of you must be doing it!) We do know what pirates represent, right?
Now, do I think for any reason that your child who is donning a hook and an eyepatch is somehow going to make raping and pillaging their mission in life? No. I don’t.
But for some reason saying we own Call of Duty or Ghost Recon or Halo or Ghostbusters or whatever else game they have which involves war or blowing up aliens or ghosts means that my kid might be the next gun wielding high school shooter and I have to argue that it’s just not the case, as your child with the hook isn’t about to set sail on the high seas.
I’ve read the stats. I’ve done the research. I’ve scoured through every university study multiple times and this is where I land.
Is this where I think you should land? Not for a second.
I land here only because I know my boys. They are happy, silly goofballs who like to have kitchen dance parties with me. They are kind and well mannered (mostly) and are high functioning members of society. They contribute to their schools, are part of teams and clubs, volunteer for local charities and have never owned a trench coat.
Would I reassess if they were drawn to dark and moody? If they would lock themselves away for hours at a time? If they wouldn’t talk to me about life or what’s happening at school or if I saw that their friends were starting to paint their fingernails black and listen only to musicians who have killed themselves?
I would. Of course.
In fact, I reassess every Saturday morning when they ask if they can play. I reassess the kind of week they’ve had and if they can handle this. I reassess if aggression has come out amongst each other. I reassess the websites they’ve looked at.
But when all I find in their history is funny hamster memes, I tend to cut them some slack. When their instagram profile reads, “I love my family and my friends but most of all Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer” I tend to think that this isn’t going to turn them into the next news story.
To those of you not grasping this at all, I get it. I was there. Some days I still am, I’ll admit it. This isn’t an easy decision nor one I take lightly and I wrestle back and forth with it constantly.
I also wrestle with the fact that God sent Israel to wipe out the Caananites. Not that I’m comparing the two events but the wrestle is similar. It doesn’t sit easy in my gut, nor should it. It causes reassessment and prayer and a deeper look into God’s character, all good things. Same with my boys. The not sitting easy brings reassessment and prayer and a deeper look into their character.
I’m not going to say it’s my favourite when I walk in the room and I see them all intense and directing each other which way to go and I look at the screen and all I see is the barrel of a gun. It’s not. So, I get it.
But I think we can tend to overcomplicate things.
Just because your 3 year old is donning a bikini does not make her sexually provocative and likewise, because a boy wants to shoot things on a screen does not make him a killer.
I definitely played my fair share of Duck Hunt back in the day and I can honestly say I’ve never felt the urge to take that to the ponds.
Remember, my kids are big. Like teenage boys with facial hair and man voices kind of big. This did not start when they were little and didn’t understand that Dora and Diego were not real people. It didn’t. Because remember all the stats I’ve read?
I won’t for a second admit that I understand the male mind. I don’t understand war movies or find robots with huge canons for arms enticing. I don’t grasp the appeal of the light sabre, (for the record, my boys had to be 9 before watching Star Wars. 9, people!!) and I will never ever ever understand why they want to hold that controller in their hands for multiple hours a day on a useless game called Minecraft. I don’t get it. I just don’t. It’s madness! (For the record, my husband thinks my ideals of them wanting nothing more than to drink tea and bake with me is as crazy as I think them playing these games is!)
Which is why I also don’t understand why boys like to go to the gun range and shoot targets over having a bubble bath with essential oils. I don’t grasp the hunting of animals, even if you are going to have it for dinner. I can’t figure out why one would choose to have welts all over their body after a non-obligatory game of paintball. I don’t understand wanting to be a police officer. I just don’t.
So of course I won’t understand why every single boy in the flipping universe wants to sit in front of the screen and be a part of a war scene and blow the enemy to bits. I just won’t.
But I’ve come to see that it’s not all bad. There was a day both in bible times and in the last century when boys were prepared for war, not by choice. They understood battle. They knew that it was a duty and an obligation and it was them working for the protection of others. For the protection of their homes and their loved ones.
Our boys (thank the Lord) don’t have that. But I have no doubt they have those same feelings inside. Feelings of wanting to do right for the good side by obliterating the bad. Feelings of wanting to protect what you hold dear. Feelings of rising to the occasion and being seriously scared but taking it on anyways because this is what you do.
But our boys don’t have that in North America in 2015. They don’t.
They have video games.
My boys, anyways. They do.
** before I get all the angry messages, my boys time is moderated, they also play mario kart and wii sports, they are not at all violent in any way, shape or form outside of this video game and since letting them start to play their attitudes and actions have not changed one bit. They don’t drink, do drugs or smoke. They don’t paint their fingernails black and though they sometimes listen to Nirvana they also sing all the worship songs at church so I’m pretty sure it balances out. Yes, we are concerned about violence in movies and games when it comes to our children but we’re also concerned about lust (which is why none of them have seen any of the Transformers movies), pride, anger, greed, defamation of the Lord God, and most of all their hearts. It’s always their hearts. If this one video game changed their hearts then it would be gone in a snap. It hasn’t. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Oh, except that if you have children younger than the teenager years, I know. You’ll never, ever let your kids play it. I know. I get it. Me too.
(Remember there’s a giveaway going on! Want a copy of my favourite book? Go comment to be entered!)