My son likes his stuff. Everyday he has a small group of objects that he deems particularly important, often related to some ongoing private imagination game he is playing. The game may be or may not be related to whatever video game or video gamer he is interested in at the moment. I'm not entirely sure, since he does not directly share the plots of his games with me and the games evolve constantly. But I do receive little hints from the things he leaves about.
Boy child's playthings are generally of two categories: techy or weaponry. Guns, swords and the like are preferred toys. Things with buttons are the second favorite. Remote controls, robots, calculators, toys that blink and whirr. Sometimes a random piece of plastic or a Pokemon card will sneak in but those will be few and usually has some sort of interesting graphic or is shiny in a way that boy child will relate to weapons and machines. Rarely does anything representing a living thing come into the boy's games.
Important objects to boy child, whatever they may be at the time, are often left in specific arrays in specific locations are not to be moved when found. This can be a bit tricky, since information about where and when things become relevant is also not share, but I'm getting good at spotting the signs.
Like this little tableau I came across on the table the other morning:
That one was a rather obvious arrangement and, sure enough, when boy child awoke, he came to the table, loaded up his person with these objects, and wandered off to continue his internal narrative.
I remember being flummoxed by little boys long before I had my own, irritated with their fascinations with weapons and just want to shoot, slash, and bludgeon everything in their atmosphere. I like books and quiet games where all the characters talk about their feelings. When boy child came along and wanted to mash everything he couldn't blow up, I turned to resignation and for a time gave into the lazy thinking, 'Well, I guess, boys. What are you going to do?'
But lately I am finding myself becoming interested in the forms that weapons take and what that means. Truly there is a vast array of objects that are outright representations of actual weapons used in the world today, but also a great variety of imaginary weapons with science fiction capabilities (turning people to stone or freezing them, creating space/time rifts, etc.) all mixed in with a primitive skill of turning the most benign object into a weapon by sharpening a point and swinging it wildly.
Stranger still, to the way my brain classifies, boy child has no division between these very different types of weapons. He will carry his space zapper right next to his pointy stick. He's like a warrior out of time, or in all times.
Thinking a bit further, this anachronistic warrior, though, isn't such an anomaly when you consider that despite all of boy child's fascinations with the things, they are still tools in service to a narrative game he is playing in his mind. In his imagination there are people like characters that are moving about motivated by their own virtues and vices. Bravery and sacrifice is a common theme. Protecting, endurance and strength. Heroism. This is, I think, the core of the weapon fascination and connecting factor that explains why the mace is nestled next the ray gun. It's in service to a higher value.
Even with the weapons and the monsters that he draws and the insistence that all our books be about zombies and the first person shooter games and the acts of violence perpetrated against any standing pole, he's not really a scary kid. He's loving and sweet. I don't want to diminish his love of imaginary violence (he does not like real violence), because, for sure, he is all about splashing about the imaginary blood of his imaginary enemies, but his the movies he loves, the stories he plays, are about overcoming odds and being the good guy. And if being the good guy and saving all the people requires stepping up and crushing the imperial warlords with extreme prejudice, well then, a guy has to do what a guy has to do. Because, you know, boys.