So today is Remembrance Day. It is a day etched in my memory since childhood when I would hear my grandparents talking of the war, and the sacrifices soldiers made all over the world so that people could have freedom, life and liberty. My grandparents lived through two wars, as many people of their generation did. I heard the horror stories of what they grew up seeing and living through. I was also reminded by them and my parents how fortunate my brother and were to live in a free country, where we had the gift of democracy and life. We read the poem Flanders Fields, bought poppies, marked the one minute of silence every November 11th. To this day, I still stop for a few minutes at eleven o’clock and remember that I have what I have because men and women died to give it to me. I remember veterans coming to talk to us at school, seeing them at shopping centers and feeling so humbled. I have done my best, as has Michael’s father, to pass this down to Michael.
At school as well, Michael has been making a poppy craft. We spoke about Remembrance Day the other day at breakfast. I was so proud of his questions and worried if I answered them correctly. He is going through a rough time now with anxiety, anger and a particular fear of death. It took courage for him to voice his concerns:
“Mommy, at school we made a poppy craft to remember the soldiers who went to war.”
“Yes. It’s important we remember them.”
“They went to war and didn’t come back home. They died Mommy.”
He said this directly and sadly. Then my heart broke at what he said next;
“Their Mommies and Daddies never saw them again?”
I thought how to answer him.
“They came back honey, but yes, they had died. Their Mommies and Daddies had a ceremony called a funeral where they said good bye to them. Remember, the soldiers souls were in heaven, with God and Jesus.”
He nodded then shocked me with what he said next:
“If I died at war, would you come and see me and bring me home?”
Tears filled my eyes. How could I answer this? I was so awed and amazed by young men and women who joined the army in our modern time. Many did not come back. They were true heroes, but for their parents I could not imagine a pain worse than losing your child.
“Yes, I would honey. Of course, I would. But you’re not a soldier, and you’re not going to die. You’re going to live a long time.”
I prayed that these words would bring him comfort. He seemed to absorb them and then changed the topic to talk about what his favorite route to school was.
So many young people today have forgotten what Remembrance Day means. And it is important to never forget. It is important to tell the stories to the next generation and keep them going so that history does not forget the brave men and women, past and present, who serve, sacrifice and sometimes die to keep us safe.
Michael has opened up my eyes again to how it is never too late to educate children and to gently teach them about the blessings they have. He has shown me how to count my blessings too and remember my fortunes.
How have you explained difficult topics to your Exceptional Children, Exceptional Moms? How have they reacted? I think as long as it is in simple language they can understand and direct, you will not go wrong in teaching them the ways of the world. They will guide you when they are ready to hear the stories. Until next time.