Monday, August 06, 2007


I was listening to NPR the other day and they were interviewing people who had witnessed the Mississippi bridge wreckage. A guy called in to share his story and said that he had heard about the bridge collapse and knew that he had to be there. He grabbed his eight year old son and rushed to the wreckage, telling his son, "This is something we have to see and we have to see if we can help."

Does that strike you funny? It blew me away. First, I don't have my own children, but I have spent a lot of time with a variety of eight year olds and I have to tell you that the first word I think of when I think of them in connection with a large deadly disaster is not helpful. Secondly, I cannot believe that this man thought that something so potentially fatal and gruesome could be a good thing for his child to see.

The reporter kept her cool much more than I would have. After another question or two she said, "so you thought it was important for your son to see this first hand rather than shield him from it?" The man emphatically answered, "Yes, of course. This is an important event in history. I felt like it was a lesson in human fallibility..." My response? Perhaps you are correct sir, and yet so were the Holocaust, the Iraq war, and the World Trade Center bombing and I doubt you'd find anyone dragging their children along to such violent scenes.

I hate that I'm going to say this, but I can't help but think that a woman would not do this and I don't make that judgement based on premises that women are smarter than men or that they have more common sense, but rather on contemporary culture and the way society thinks we should raise our little boys. I am amazed with the number of video games available that teach children war simulation. We are spending hundreds of dollars buying video games for our children that encourage them to shoot other people. I can't help but think this is wrong. Whatever your stance on war is, you must believe that it is not easy or joyful for those soldiers to hurt or even kill other human beings, no matter what it is they are defending. It makes me sad to see the ways we silence little boys' tears and encourage them to stifle their own feelings in the name of being brave. By doing so, we invite them to release their emotions through physical, often violent, behavior.

I can only imagine the nightmares that child must have had after seeing the blood and wreckage and hearing the screams of fear and pain and anguish. I hate to think that he went to sleep that night thinking that his dad thought that was an important experience for him to have.


Kimba Rimba said...

You super crack me up! Thanks for the tips, noted...done and done!!!!! Adding you to my blogroll, ok! :)

Christy said...

When I was little my dad took me downtown to see a building that they were going to blow up but there were no people involved. I think if the bridge collapsed and no people or cars were involved it might have been something interesting to see but your right..what was he thinking? Although he thought he was showing him "history", an 8 year old had no business being there right after it happened. Just think of the things he could have seen that would stay with him forever.