What's in your toy box? My boys have army guys. You know the ones I'm talking about. The big gallon size tub of army green guys that you can pick up at any dollar store. Little boys can play for hours setting up battle scenes and playing out a make believe war. I think each little guy has their own "sound" for war. The noise they make when bullets are flying and bad guys are taken out. After the battle is over, the army guys are piled back into the tote and, the next day, they come out alive and well, prepared for another war.
How do you feel about children playing war? I hadn't really thought about this subject until several months ago while saying night time prayers with my boys. Each boy was snuggled deep down under the covers, stuffed animals and pillows placed just so in the manner of a fort.
My youngest started with his "thankful list". His eyes squeezed tight and little hands clasped in front of his chest. The list was one that made me smile. He loves all kinds of food. So, his thanks included all his favorite dishes. He ended with his requests ... bless Mommy, Daddy and brothers.
Then, we moved on to my middle boy. The room was dark and held a magical sort of feel. That's how my heart is while I listen to their prayers. There's no better sound than the quiet prayer of a child. That boy shot straight up in his bed and with a tone of absolute confidence, he said .... "Mommy, I just knowed what I want to be when I growed up! I'm gonna be a soldier!" My heart skipped a beat and I was both proud and fearful. I loved that he wanted to be a soldier, an honorable choice. Also, I was afraid. What if he kept with that choice, what if our country remained at war until he was of age? I asked him how he had come to that decision. His answer was a matter of fact ... "Cause Mommy, I can shoot people with my gun and I really want a gun!" My heart sunk and I felt as though I'd been punched in the gut.
At what point did my son become infatuated with guns? And, why would he think that was the "best part" of being a soldier? We talked about those things for several minutes. I tried to explain that being a soldier is more about courage then carrying a weapon. We decided that the best thing to do was pray for our soldiers. That they would have courage enough to know when to use their gun and when they shouldn't. We prayed for their safety and thanked God that the soldiers were protecting us.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a conservative parent. My younger boys don't play violent video games, watch movies with violence or movies that include blood/gore. That night, I realized that no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can't protect my children from the war. It's everywhere. Not talking about it, trying to ignore it or protecting our children from the reality of war isn't the answer. As parents, we must educate our children of the sacrifice each military staff and family makes to provide us with freedom.
My husband served in the United States Air Force for 4 years. We lived on a military base and had our first child during that time. He was blessed to serve during peaceful times. We made wonderful friends and memories. I can't imagine being the wife/spouse of someone serving during war times.
Today is Memorial Day. A time when we honor those that gave all for us to have all. Today, I'm remembering them and the One who gave absolutely everything for me. While you spend your day cooking out and playing with your family/friends, take time to think of those that are nowhere near their loved ones. Then, say a special prayer for them and their sacrifice.
My boys still play with their army guys. They still pray for those that fight in the war. Now, we talk about the war and those that give the ultimate sacrifice.
How does Memorial Day make you feel? Are you a veteran, active duty or civilian? What decisions have you made about raising your children in a war time America?