Friday, June 29, 2018

Pirate kids.

One of the unintended consequences of taking Everett to Disneyland back in January was that he became intrigued by violence. He loved Star Tours and watching the Jedi training, and he wants his own real lightsaber. He is now Star Wars obsessed, even though he hasn't seen any of the movies. Darth Vader is his favorite, and he has already planned out our family Halloween costumes for next year: Everett as Darth Vader, Cambria as R2D2, Matt as a Stormtrooper, and me as Princess Leia. He also loved Pirates of the Caribbean, which made his interest in pirates turn into an obsession, and he turns everything he can into a pirate sword.

I have a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies and have been a long time believer in nonviolence, so of course, I have been hesitant about this new development encouraged by the happiest place on earth. At first, I thought if I didn't make a big deal about it, he would kind of just forget about his obsession with guns and swords, but that didn't happen.

Just another thing that makes me realize that I have no idea what I am doing as a parent, and that I have a tendency to overthink everything. I try to do my research and then go with my gut. In this situation, I read several articles that at least made me feel like my kid is definitely not the only one who has an obsession with guns and swords. What I took away from the articles is that it is not necessarily good to completely ban kids from imaginary play with swords and guns, because kids even turn their finger into a gun, and you can't really take that away. Play is how kids learn, and so they are trying to learn about the world around them. Communication with your kid about this topic is important, and it is okay to set rules for your own home.

For now, I have talked to Everett about why I don't like guns and swords. He knows my point of view, but it has been a challenge for me to navigate this topic with him.

We've had a lot of deep conversations about "good guys" and "bad guys" and why I believe everyone is good, but some people make bad choices sometimes.

I want nonviolence to be a value within our home. In the mean time, Everett turns every stick he can find into a pirate sword, and he uses his fingers to shoot while making gun noises.

Everett really wanted to play pirates for "school." He wanted to check out "all the pirate books from the library," so I did my best to get pirate books that aren't all about sword fights and violence.

He vacillates between playing, "Mom, I'm a good pirate, and I will take away the bad pirate's swords," and "Mom, look at my sword; I'm a bad pirate!" Even, "Mom, close your eyes on this page. You're not gonna like it; there's a sword on this page!"

We checked out a lot of pirate books, and there are a lot of kid pirate books with sword battles and fighting, so I sorted through them to choose the ones that were more kid friendly.

Library books about pirates we enjoyed:
  • Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies
    • Books save the day in this story. Yes, let's celebrate reading instead of swords in children's books!
  • I Love My Pirate Papa
    • A pirate boy is loved by his sweet pirate dad.
  • Pirate Mom
    • A silly book where the mom is hypnotized by a magician into thinking she's a pirate, and the little boy realizes he just wants his regular mom back, not a pirate.
  • The Pirates Next Door 
    • They are nice pirates who bury treasure in people's backyards as gifts to them. 
  • On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe 
    • They are good pirates who don't want to steal.
  • Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe 
    • They are playing pirates with their mom, the Pirate Queen.
  • The Skeleton Pirate 
    • An excerpt: "Perhaps fighting isn't always the answer," said the Mermaid gently. "What else is there?" said the Skeleton Pirate. "Talking?" said the Mermaid. 
    • Spoiler alert: Talking worked to save the day.
  • Pirate Pete by Lynne Benton 
    • Pirate Pete followed a treasure map, which led him to a birthday cake and a surprise party, and he decided that was better than treasure.
  • Pig Kahuna Pirates 
    • Pig siblings play pirates on the beach. 
  • Shiver Me Letters 
    • A fun book about pirates finding all the letters of the alphabet.
  • How I Became a Pirate
    • A young boy is playing at the beach and gets recruited to join a pirate crew. 
  • Pirates Don't Change Diapers
    • This is a sequel to How I Became a Pirate, and it turns out taking care of a baby is actually more difficult than being a pirate. 
  • Let's Go For a Drive 
    • The beloved Elephant and Piggie play pirates. What could be more innocent than that?
  • Roger, the Jolly Pirate 
    • This is about a pirate named Roger whose not very good at being a pirate because he's nice, but then he saves the day by baking a cake.
  • Pajama Pirates 
    • Kids in pajamas play pirates in their room before they go to sleep.
  • Captain Jack and the Pirates
    • Three little kids are building a boat out of sand and set sail on an imaginary pirate adventure. 
One of our favorite books we checked out was The Pirates Next Door, which led us to discover new chapter books that have the same characters. While I read the new chapter books out loud to Everett, it was the first time I've ever seen him addicted to reading a longer book and finding out what happens next. The whole idea of wanting to stay up later to read "just one more chapter, please mom," was really fun to experience with him.

Pirate chapter books:

While we read the pirate books, we made a list of all the things a pirate needs, and then worked to create them: a pirate hat, a ship, a sail, a treasure map, a telescope, treasure, a bandana, and a Jolly Roger flag.

To finish up our pirate unit, we took a field trip to the San Diego Maritime Museum, which was free during the Big Exchange. We loved it so much, we went twice. 

Collaborative art: coloring their pirate's treasure
Going on a backyard treasure hunt. He used his "telescope" to look for treasure. We took turns hiding the treasure and finding it around the backyard. This was so simple, and Everett loved it.
Pirate math: counting the treasure, identifying numbers, and simple addition
Pirate field trip: Thanks to the Big Exchange, we were able to go to the Maritime Museum of San Diego twice without having to pay. We were all impressed and had a lot of fun.
Last day of pirate play. We turned Cambria's bed into a pirate ship, made a Jolly Roger flag, dressed up, and read all of our pirate books one last time. Pirates eat fish, I suppose, so they got to eat Swedish fish in their boat. 

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