Monday, 28 October 2013

The Lesson of the Sword! aka Make Your Own Sword Today!

We have a house rule: we never buy swords nor guns for the kids as toys. This is because we felt that we don't need to encourage violence. So when Isaac was just a baby and hubbs and I heard of this house rule my cousin had for his kids - we thought it made a lot of sense, and so we adopted it too.  

It was fine for Isaac - he wasn't really into swords nor guns, and on the rare occasion where he expressed any interest in having a sword or a gun for a toy - he was easily dissuaded or distracted by some other stuff. Asher was a different story. Since he was very young, he would love, absolutely lurve, playing soldiers, using other toys as his make believe gun or rifle or sword. Always. It was really very odd, as we hardly exposed him to such things since Isaac wasn't really crazy about such things, and Asher started showing these preferences before he went to childcare. 

It is just like him liking the colour green - we didn't expose the colour to him at all, and yet he likes it. All this has caused me to think that perhaps colour preferences, and even him liking to play with swords and guns - are really quite innate preferences.
The kids love the good swords I made them! They're really hardy!
Top left hand picture by Orange Studios
Isaac has fun playing with swords and guns too, but not with the amount of passion Asher has for it. Correspondingly, since Asher was quite young, like age 2 or so, he started to use items and pretend they were his sword/gun/rifle - let's just call it his 'weapon'. When he learnt to play with link cubes or Lego, he would use them to make his weapon. When he realises that Mummy dearest is handy at making stuff, he started to ask me to make a weapon for him. And because of our house rule... I resisted for the longest time. Using all manner of delay tactics, and excuses, I have up my sleeves, I kept saying no, or later... But he is very persistent.

Another reason why I procrastinated is because I was trying to think of a way to make A Good Sword.  I didn't want to make a two dimensional one like the one below - it was too flimsy and would go to pieces in no time at all. I wanted to make one which was very solid, that you could really have a mock duel with. One which would really hurt, if it hit you. So ironic, isn't it. Here is my inner child, wanting to have a real sword duel, fighting against the grown up mummy, who is supposed to dissuade violence and prevent the children from hurting one another.

Then one day, a friend mentioned to me that she had read an article that kids playing with weapons don't necessarily mean they become more violent, something like that. And suddenly, with that mind barrier removed, I had a fantastic idea for making A Good Sword!

So, how do you make A Good Sword?
If you look at the tip of the sword Isaac is holding (in the picture on the left of the collage above), you can see a tiny triangle. This is because the sword is simply a strip of corrugated cardboard about three inches by fifteen inches long, folded along the lines of the cardboard to form a triangular cross section. Use duct tape in the colour of your (child's) choice, and tape it all up. Make two short one and a half inches of the same cardboard triangular cross section for each side of the 'blade' for the hilt. Use duct tape again to join and secure the small pieces to make the hilt. Voila! Good swords above. Really hard too. It really hurts if you get hit by them, so do tell the kids (and adults) to be careful with where they swing them.

The kids loved the good swords. They were very solid and are still in use. My fear that the kids will become very violent and start hurting each other with the good swords didn't materialise either. Shawna even tried to stand on the hilt of her good sword as she was trying to pretend that it was a pogo stick?! 
Shawna & Asher with their classic 2 dimensional sword, designed by Isaac kor kor! :)
Then one day, a few months after we made the good swords, Isaac came to me to say that he wanted to make a new sword for himself. Apparently he wanted to make a good 'ol two-dimensioned sword like the ones in the picture above. I was a little disgruntled.

Me:"Why do you need to make another sword? You still have the one Mummy made for you, isn't it?"
Isaac:"I know, but I want to make another one."
Me:"Okay okay, you go and draw it yourself, I will help you cut it out with the penknife, but you draw it."
Isaac:"Okay Mummy." and he happily started drawing on the cardboard I provided.
Me, muttering under my breath as I watched him:"The one I made for you is a very good sword you know."
Isaac glanced at me, came over to hug me, looked me in the eye and said:"Yes, Mummy, I still like the sword you made for me very much. It's just that I want to try."

I was startled as I realised how silly I was behaving, and how Isaac had picked up on my unhappiness, thinking that he didn't like nor appreciated the sword I made for him. And I realised I was doing something contrary to what I usually try to do - I was preventing him from learning from his own mistakes. With his assurance that he would still like my sword, my negative feelings about his latest craft venture dissipated and we happily got on to making a good old fashion two dimensional cardboard sword. 

The twins saw his new sword and immediately wanted one for themselves too. Thus I replicated the design that Isaac drew out, and cut out two for Asher and Shawna. Isaac and the twins got to experience for themselves how flimsy this sword was after awhile. And now, months on, these two dimensional swords have been thrown away, and they still have their Good Swords to play with.

And Isaac says:"You were right, Mummy! Your sword is better! :)"

All is well in Tan Camelot ;)


  1. Haha, I love how mature Isaac was about wanting to try to make his own sword. And now they all know how to make a good one :)

    1. Yes, Isaac can really be quite mature at times. So much so that when he acts his age, I get frustrated! :p

  2. My son Sean really likes swords and weapons of any sort too even though I never encourage it. I just tell him guns and knives hurt people so I don't want to play them with him. The message seems to have gotten to him but he says his are just toys (bought by his grandparents) so it's okay ;)

    May try making this triangular sword with him - cannot resist a good cardboard craft!

    1. Hahaha thanks for saying it's a good cardboard craft! :p You know, I think all our pyscho-ing does have it's desired effect in a way! :)

  3. Ha! I know what you mean about boys wanting guns and swords all the time - I don't buy any of these toys for J, but it doesn't seem to make a difference because he just builds his own out of legos! My husband says that the desire in boys to wield weapons is not due to a destructive nature, but the desire to protect and defend or to do something heroic.

    1. Well, I like your husband's theory! It's like a caveman theory of sorts eh? Like the man's duty is to defend his family and his hinterland sorta thing! :p hahaha

  4. Love your hardy swords! Isaac's so sweet to reassure mummy... aww......

    1. Hehehe thanks! Yeah! He's quite a sensitive new age boy! :p

  5. Love the story, Pam. Haha, I think I would have felt a bit dissed too, but actually I think you only served to inspire them to try new things and think of creative ways to achieve what they want. Good on the clan!


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