Mommy's little soldier.
By Elizabeth Thompson
Until I had one.
Having mostly girls, I can tell you that I consider my son a refreshing respite from all the girlie-girl drama that goes on here, these days.
Unfortunately, my Little Man is surrounded by female influences and it’s hard not to notice signs that he’s in desperate need of a brother, especially when his sisters slam their bedroom door with the words “Keep Out!” almost always circled in pink, puffy hearts!
Don’t get me wrong -- my husband is a terrific father -- but, there are those who would believe that a boy needs as many positive male role models as possible and I just happen to be one of them.
Well, strictly speaking -- and not just as his mother -- as a woman, I find that I much prefer and have always enjoyed the company of…you know…men.
Even as a child growing up in the seventies (talk about a turbulent time for women) I was too busy climbing trees with my brother and skinning my elbows and knees on a makeshift bike ramp to worry about whether my jeans were Gloria Vanderbilt-enough!
But, there are those times -- especially if my husband’s busy working and I find myself drowning in all the melodrama -- when I call on my brother, to pitch hit.
“Can my Little Man sleep over, this weekend?”My brother lives on an army base that simply reeks of testosterone.
“Sure, we’ll take him over to the go carts and then check out the motor pool.”My sister-in-law was an army brat and is one of six children, so she totally understands my insisting on the importance of making sure each of my children get a chance at some private time -- especially, the boy!
“I want to be an army guy, like Uncle Bud!”No, I am not surprised that my son wants to be a soldier -- my brother is pretty cool in his “civvies”, as well -- but, I am concerned about sending out conflicting messages, too.
“Yes, being a soldier is a very important job and it can be very dangerous, too.”
“That’s why they carry guns, right!?!?”Yes...I mean, no...UGH!...what’s the right answer, anyway?
“I know...only to protect themselves and others from bad guys...I know that already, mom!”Then, I found a cut-out-picture he colored for a class project -- supposedly, representing a special person in my son’s life and description of what makes them unique -- although, my son’s ”Sniper Bear” never did make it up on the wall.
Although, his teacher didn’t think it appropriate, she didn’t think it wasn’t that much of a big deal, either.
Not until my son and I had a…very…long…talk…about how much his bear (complete with dark, angry eyebrows and wearing an ammo vest) did NOT look like his Uncle Bud and what the word “sniper” actually means.
So, we softened his eyes, ditched the vest and it was proudly displayed by the time back-to-school night arrived.
[pointing at wall]
“See, there’s “Sarge” and he’s looking very proud to be an “Army Bear!”[rolling eyes and grabbing chest]
“Phew…it’s just that…well, I’m glad I found it in his folder…and I asked him about it…and I just didn’t want you think…you know…that I didn’t notice…or, that I’m okay with all the guns…tanks…missiles…heat-seeking…or, otherwise.”It’s hard enough having to explain to my 8-year-old son -- although his uncle has never been in a situation where he actually had to shoot, anyone -- that guns are bad and soldiers are good, but war is definitely bad, or that police officers also carry guns, because there are bad people all over, who want to hurt people, with guns, but don’t worry, because we’re pretty much safe, especially in school, sort of.
“Guess what?”I’m afraid to ask.
“Since I’m playing baseball, this year, I finally get to march in the Memorial Day Parade!”Which happens fall on my brother’s birthday, as well as mine, every year.
“Do you know why we celebrate Memorial Day?”I pretended not to.
“We’re supposed to remember all of the soldiers, you know, who died.”Yes, but why was he telling me and should he really be smiling so much?
“But, I think somebody should come up with a different kind of Memorial Day.”Should I really be this confused?
“You know, one where we remember guys like Uncle Bud.”Okay, now I’m smiling.
“Because, he’s a soldier and, like, would give his life to protect somebody he doesn’t even know, you know?”Yes, I know.
“I think that’s so cool!”So, this Memorial Day, perhaps we all should consider watching a different kind of parade and -- like thoughts about my brother living a life that no one can truly understand, unless it’s your own -- I will allow my son the chance to march along, content in knowing that he’s all mine and fighting with nothing more than his sisters, for now, at least.
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