Soldier Boy

September 25, 2009 by  

Soldier Boy, WonderBoy is ALL Boy.

Anything classic boy and he’s all over it.

You can’t pry him away from his trains, construction vehicles,
emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, army men or Star Wars.

Even as a baby in his stroller people would stop and exclaim “he’s like a little man.”

Yes, he’s always been ALL Boy.

When he wanted trains, construction vehicles, ambulances and matchbox cars
I was fine.
He had the gear to go along with each one; conductor’s hat, whistles,
construction hats and cones, etc.

When it came time for the army things, however, I was a little less fine.
Of course he wanted all the gear.
The uniforms, the dog tags and, inevitably, the toy guns. (in the form of nerf, water pistols, etc.)
I said no.
For a long time, I continued to say no.

Then, I realized that my saying no is based upon my own fear that by playing with
the army things he would somehow choose a life in the military a decade from now
and that I might lose him in some catastrophic way.

Throughout history children have pretended to be warriors, fighters, servicemen,
doctors, train operators, race car drivers, cowboys and firemen.
They’ve played cops and robbers, dress up, dolls and House.
“Pretending” is a very important part of childhood; of learning.

My putting my own judgments on what he chooses to pretend to be at ten years old only
stifles his ability to explore and decide for himself.
Further, it may even lead him to build an allure in his own mind of something
forbidden and somehow mysterious…drawing him to it even more.

I decided to allow him the freedom to express what is important to him
however he’d like as long as it is not dangerous to himself or others.
In doing so, however, I believe it’s my job to educate him to the best of my ability
as to the pros and cons of life as any of these “pretend” characters.

Now, I don’t know what life as a Wookie or a Clone Trooper is like and the research
there is scant so with some things he’s on his own.
With regard to others, we’ve researched and watched documentaries together about
firemen and train operators and have had an opportunity
through friends to visit both “on the job.”

As for the military, we have some friends who are retired from different branches
of service both here and in England who have discussed military life with him.
Recently we took WonderBoy to West Point * Army Academy
to tour the grounds and see what cadet life is like.
We also spent a day on the Naval Aircraft carrier Intr*epid.
He was in awe. (I’ll be posting the photos of our days there soon).

For now, WonderBoy loves dressing up in his real soldier uniform that was a gift
from a base in North Carolina, boots and all.
He even has real dog tags and his last name sewn onto his coat.
He proudly displays the American flag on his right arm in regulation placement.
Most importantly, he understands that real soldiers are defending our freedom in wars
around the world and that nothing in war is glamorous.
With this in mind, he wears his uniform proudly and in respect for the soldiers
that fought for us in the past and who fight for us today;
some of whom are only 8 years older than he is now.

I have to say that I gasp when I look at him in his army uniform.
He’s just a boy…like so many of the boys that are in wars around the world.
I feel for their mothers.
I feel for myself as a mother… but this is his “pretend” now…his childhood.
I am letting my boy be a boy.
Lots of things change in 8 years…lots!

I’m off to find a stethoscope and a white surgeon’s coat…
(and, throwing caution to the wind… a matchbox Lamborghini to fully make my point!)
Perhaps I can gently change his mind and ease my own.

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