Armchair General Toddler Program
I want to share a very special part of my life with you, and introduce my exciting 2-year old son Gabe. I was corresponding with a friend about how much fun I’m having teaching him all the important things he’ll need to know in life. When I say important, I mean where to find the best local World War II reenactments, the significance of all those white marble stones we pass at the National Cemetery, and the difference between a proper tank and an armored personnel carrier. In doing so, I realized it would be fascinating to compile all of our activities and compare my experience to other parents in my situation. Think of this as the Armchair General Toddler Program, though children of any age can apply. Follow along and at the end tell me what YOU are doing to raise a good Armchair General!
His first and perhaps most important lesson was taught last spring just as he was getting familiar with how to walk. We live near Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, which has thousands of graves of our nation’s veterans – including my grandfather. I’m sure he didn’t understand why we were there, but taking him there made me feel good, made my grandmother feel good, and I hope will lay the foundation for my son’s appreciation of why all these men and women are there in the first place. A visit to the cemetery should be a learning experience and by taking him along on this "adventure" I hope he sees it as an open and inviting place, and not the haunted and dark place that many TV shows and books try to portray.
In a broader context, eventually he will understand that war is a matter of life and death, and all the books, movies, reenactments, etc. showing war as glorious must be held in perspective with the real life heroes that have gone before us, or are fighting for us now. An advanced concept for sure, but kids (I’m learning every day) are very smart in ways you never expect.
That same day we took Gabe to see a World War II gathering in which collectors, re-enactors, veterans groups, and just plain folk met up for a day at one of the local villages to celebrate Memorial Day. Lots of militaria and hardware all about the town, including a little Stuart tank which was positioned perfectly to grab a snapshot. I rolled up the stroller and took one for the scrap book.
His mom is just off camera, probably rolling her eyes – but with the understanding that a father has to do what a father has to do. My wife is very astute, and it comes as no surprise to her that my son seems to share a lot of interests with me – military history being one of my favorites (throwing rocks in the creek is a close second!).
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