I really admire those new mothers to sons who say they are going to try to discourage violent play in their households by not buying toy guns and knives and the like for their boys. I also would like to say good luck with that. Because they are soon to find out, as most mothers that I've spoken with that have tried to go down this path eventually find out, somehow, someway, boys will have toy weapons. They will take something and make it into a gun or a knife, no matter how benign that object may appear to anyone loaded with x chromosomes and over the age of 12.
Take paper airplanes. My kids discovered a page on how to make paper airplanes in The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden. Dangerous indeed. Paper on its own is relatively safe. It's lightweight, it can't be thrown very far, it doesn't hurt when you hit someone with it unless crumpled into a tight little ball. Barring a rogue papercut or two, I wouldn't consider paper itself very dangerous.
The actual process of building paper airplanes also went well. The boys sat down with John and very patiently folded their pieces of paper into the correct shapes to make the appropriate planes. No fighting, little arguing, just the anticipation of whether or not their airplanes would fly.
Then the testing came. And boy did they fly! The airplanes went from one side of the room to the other. They did spirals and flips, probably accidentally but the tricks were still magnificent. And this is where it began to deteriorate.
Jack's plane accidentally hit his dad in the forehead. John made a funny noise, keeled over and said, "You got me!" The game was on. No more peaceful gliding. No more loop-di-loos. No more seeing which plane would travel the greatest distance or who could catch their plane in mid air. The gauntlet had been thrown down. And John's head made a fantastic target.
It is amazing how quickly, in the hands of a boy, a toy can go from nice and quiet to destructive and hazardous. The paper airplanes became bombers with passengers crashing to fiery deaths as they pummeled John over and over in his face, head, belly, and backside. I considered asking him to put on safety glasses for fear he would lose an eye, and at one point when an airplane hit his throat thought he had been given an unscheduled and unneeded tracheotomy. Luckily, the sharp airplane points don't hold up to much abuse and they were dulled by his body in no time.
So to those moms out there who hope to stave off violent play in their homes, I wish you good luck. And remind you to keep a close eye on your husband. In my home he is often the instigator.