Waging War

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“That was a plane that was used to kill a bunch of Japanese…” The docent paused proudly before the aircraft for effect.

My son tightened his grip on my hand. He stared up wide eyed at the machine guns poking through the canopy.

“Mommy. What’s a Japanese?”

We had come to the vintage aircraft museum because aside from frogs and lizards and ninjas and Star Wars, the thing that kid loves more than anything else is airplanes.

Up to this point though, we had not talked about how some airplanes are used to kill people.

Now, I am struggling with what to tell my son about war. Past and present and future.

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18 thoughts on “Waging War

    • Right? I remember being a kid learning about World War II and having a very different view of things than I now do as an adult. And quite frankly I had not even realized my thoughts and feelings were so different until it all hit me at that moment, with that off hand comment.

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  1. Truth tempered by the age of your son and distraction. That’s my suggestion, it’s a matter of truth in small bits, and then other things. “Japanese are what people born in Japan are called.Hey, look at the wings on that plane, think they’re slippery?”

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  2. I’ve always found the truth, carefully and gently as possible spoken, is best. It’s important our kids have an awareness of the world without being overly frightened by it. Obviously fear is going to play a role, but it’s best our children learn of the terrible things from us and know they can come to us, know we will always do what we can to keep them safe.

    The thing is, if we don’t tell them these terrible truths, the world will . . .

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    • Yes! I worry about what to say that is not terribly frightening but still conveys the seriousness and gravity of the subject. He is probably only old enough for the partial truth right now, though. Hiroshima not so much yet…

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      • It’s difficult . . . With my older two, both being on the autistic spectrum, facts were paramount. When they were younger it was Columbine I had to explain, and later, 9/11. I incorporated the truth with our faith, with gentle assurances, but no promises. People were busy telling their kids it could never happen at their school, it won’t happen again and I just couldn’t do that. I couldn’t lie. The truth was, it could. We talked about safety and what to do if . . . Same after 9/11 and all the other terrible things. Kids live in a scary world :o( you will find the right words . . .

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  3. My first exposure to war was our trip to Hiroshima when I was 8 years old at the nuclear memorial. It was devastating for me to see the photos, models and memorabilia. It etched a very vivid memory and made me very fearful of the consequences of war and all that it entails.

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      • I am not so sure… I did grow up a bit, and realised the computer war games my brothers played had other implications, and saw war movies with a different perspective than most kids when I was a teenager. I did also cry for several nights in bed after Hiroshima because I was so traumatized by what I saw at the age of 8. Maybe I was a bit young… Or just sensitive.

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  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    As we go into 100th year commemorations for the First World War -a war that was supposed to end all wars – new generations are attempting to cope with the conflicts we have going on in the present. It is hard to find a balance when asked questions by children about the recent past. My mother and father married in 1940 and he was away most of the war at sea and did not come home until 1946 as he was involved in the surrender of the Japanese. He rarely discussed his experiences but he must have talked to my mother because she held deep rooted feelings for the Japanese and she was furious when we bought a Toyota back in the 80’s. Many of today’s conflicts roots are well and truly in the past, sometimes thousands of years. Longterm enemies have become friends and allies and allies are now enemies. I wonder when, we as a species might give ourselves a clean slate – stop – agree politely to differ and move on…unfortunately it would appear that is not likely. A thought provoking piece from Behind the White Coat…

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