UPDATE (3:48 p.m.)—Gunpowder Elementary responded to the column. Find the full article here, Gunpowder Elementary: 'We Didn't Take Away Rock-Paper-Scissors'.
My son is a kindergartner, and a few weeks ago he and his classmates were reprimanded with a short lecture for playing Rock-Paper-Scissors. They are no longer allowed to play the game because participants say "rock-paper-scissors SHOOT," before displaying their fingers to see who wins.
Not because the winner bashes the loser's hand, but because they were yelling the word "SHOOT," which has connotations to a gun—making his juvenile game a potential safety risk. I can only assume that because teachers are hearing the word "SHOOT" all over the playground, with groups of students huddled in packs, they need to be able to determine when it's an actual threat.
Really? I found myself both chuckling at this new "rule" and rolling my eyes. There's no official mandate. In fact, I only heard the new restriction because I happened to be volunteering when the principal was talking to my son's class.
After school, I spoke with my son, and he admitted he had been playing the game. We spoke about why talking about shooting anything was wrong inside school, and he understood.
I agree that kids shouldn't be bringing weapons into school, and I want nothing more than to guarantee that my son is 100 percent safe the entire time he is in school. And yes, they are young enough to re-learn the game and say "Rock-Paper-Scissors GO," instead. But isn't this kind of ridiculous?
I mean really, what happens at a basketball game, or during gym when they are play soccer? How does the coach instruct the kids to shoot on goal or learn to aim a foul shot? Is that terminology forbidden as well?
Seems that most of us parents shouting at games would find ourselves being reprimanded, as we emphatically scream "shoot, shoot!" at our kids from the sidelines.
By no means am I suggesting we put our kids intentionally at risk, nor would I encourage them to bring water guns to school, have sword fights or say the words, "gun," "kill," "bomb," etc. But I am asking that they use common sense when making rules about innocent childhood games. Why haven't they banned Mercy or tackle football—my son plays both games during recess. Don't they sometimes inflict pain on participants?
I'm all for school safety, and for rules and procedures that ensure our children are protected from harm. We should closely monitor the language our kids use. Parents play a critical role in making sure kids understand right from wrong, and recognizing the warning signs of kids in trouble.
But while kids have to understand that their words and actions have consequences, prohibiting silly games seems to be the least of our worries.