Monday, May 25, 2009

Explaining War To A Four Year Old

Lola wanted to know if school was open today. "It's a home day babe." Her reply is a hearty "Wooo Hooo girlfriend!" I told her today is Memorial Day, a holiday. "You mean like Valentine Day or someones birthday?" "No, not really. This is a sad holiday for those who have lost loved ones in a war." I sometimes forget she's only four. I knew what her next question would be. "What's war?" "Well, do you know about soldiers or when your friends play shooter, and pretend they have guns, or when you play bad guy.......War is when people fight over.............Sometimes people are injured when they fight for........................It's to commemorate the death of those who have fought hard for us to have...................

How do I explain war to a four year old. How do I explain those who volunteered, or were drafted in the past. Those men and women who died to secure freedom, land, borders, rights, to make the life we live more secure? I've never considered myself patriotic. I've never really thought about Memorial Day as a holiday that had anything to do with me. Then 9/11 shook every single one of us to the core, laid us bare, scared us, made us fear each other, made us love each other. I used to say "I don't believe in war!" What a ridiculous utterance! What the hell was I thinking. Because of those who have given their lives, or more accurately, have had their lives taken, I can freely say those glib statements.

Thankfully, Lola's only experience with death was her discovery that Donut wasn't swimming in his usual spot on the kitchen window ledge the other morning. "Mom, remember Donut? Where is he?" "He wasn't swimming so well, he was just kinda floating, so I let him go swim in bigger water where he's happy." "Mom, can I have a Popsicle?"

I didn't explain Memorial Day as best I could for Lola. I don't seem to have the right words for her so she'll understand. She just wants to have a picnic and have Daddy grill some steak and kielbasa tonight. That's just what we're going to do, and have the glorious freedom to do it.

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