We're not hippie freaks about it, but we don't let the kid have toy guns, play with toy guns, or pretend that she's playing with a gun. When she started pointing sticks and Lego structures at us and looking like she was shooting, we'd ask her what she was doing. And she'd be all, "It's not a gun, it's a rocket!" or "It's an airplane."
"Where are its wings?"
"Oh, yeah. I forgot!"
Then she trotted out the sub-machine gun above, we asked her about it, and that's when we found out she kind of didn't know what she was doing. Because though she knew what guns were, and that they're used for hunting, and in war and stuff, or that they made bright firework lights and sounds in a movie, she actually did not realize what they did.
So we explained to her how guns put holes by making little explosions that sent bullets flying into the things they were pointing at. And if that was an animal or a person, those holes could kill it. And so when you're pretending to point a gun at someone, you're pretending to kill him. And we don't do that in our family. And so the kid agreed to put the Lego machine gun away, and that we'd take it apart in the morning.
After the kid went to bed, we tried to figure out where she'd learned to build a sub-machine gun. My wife was sure they didn't allow gun play at preschool, and since I'd only ever seen light sabre play there, I had to agree. So which gangbangin' playmate had we left out? And then I remembered this:
It's a fleeting shot from a movie about an art project some friends made in Albania in 2005 as part of the Tirana Biennial. Called The Negotiation Project, Olafur Eliasson had dumped three tons of white Legos in the city's central plaza and let the crowd build their fantasy city while Anri Sala, an Albanain artist living in Paris, filmed the scene. The kid and I had watched it a couple of times several weeks earlier, part of my plan to expand her Lego horizons a bit. I guess I succeeded.
press release and photos: Albanians build vision of future - with 3 tons of LEGO bricks [lego.com]
The Negotiation Project's not there, but an Anri Sala exhibition just opened at the MoCA North Miami, through March 1, 2009 [mocanomi.org]
It does include The Long Sorrow, though, Sala's beautiful, moody film featuring jazz sax player Jemeel Moondoc, which the kid loved last year [designboom, dt]