Today Rigel caught me off guard with a pretty serious conversation for a 3 year old. Based on the question, I thought the conversation was going the same direction as a recent topic, "Mommy, do police cars have strings on the back...so they can pull over the bad cars?" Not quite, I was soon to find out. While playing at the train table, he asked, "Mommy, do robots have guns?" I responded carefully (yet casually, so as to not call attention to my alarm) in a way that downplayed the significance of guns and emphasized the idea of "good guys" that help people. That didn't seem to satisfy Rigel's curiosity. Again, he inquires, "do robots have guns so they can shoot at the bad guys?...They shoot them and then throw 'em in the trash can." First of all, where did he hear about guns? I just had this conversation with another mom regarding shielding her 3 year old from the reality of guns. Kids figure things out faster than we want them to, that's for sure.
I decided to ask Rigel where he saw or heard about guns and what they were, and got no response (too much interrogation for his age level). Then, I deducted that Rigel and Daddy watch TV together from time to time in Mommy and Daddy's room at the end of a long day, and Daddy loves the history channel. "Did you see guns on TV?" I asked. Rigel lit up and began to talk and gesture faster than he could articulate full sentences. "Yeah, and they were shooting at the bad guys (sound effect), and (sound effect), and then (sound effect)... and the guns shoot all the bad guys and make them broken." I nodded, confirmed that "yep, guns make them broken all right." Time to keep it simple. "Only policemen and soldiers (our word for military personnel he sees on base every time we hit the commissary) have guns because they went to a special school to learn how to use it (more emphasis on good guys who help people)..." By then, I had already lost his attention, and decided not to push the issue. Daddy and Mommy will have to readdress this with Rigel more as the issue arises.
Regarding "throwing 'em in the trash can:" That in Rigel's imagination is the ultimate demise. When he came home from his first day of preschool, he claimed the teacher threw him in the trash can (to let us know he didn't like her), and on another occasion when a play ground kid pushed him down, he cried to me to "throw that boy in the trash can right now, Mamma." Perhaps all innocence is not lost, or do I need to re-examine things a bit?
P.S. Rigel woke up when Daddy got home late tonight, and the two of them lay next to each other talking as I wrote this. I listened in via baby monitor, and guess what I overheared Rigel recapping to Daddy? "...The robots shoot the bad guys (sound effect)...with their arrows (sound effect)...like this (sound effect)...and their heads fall off and they shoot their arms (sound effect) and their arms fall off and and... and their legs come off in pieces--so they can keep people safe from the bad guys." Um, I think I addressed the issue of guns pretty well, right...?