The everyday cost of war

Posted on Sep 11, 2013 | 2 comments

*this isn’t a recipe, it isn’t a work out. But I put tremendous energy into my families’ food because it is a tangible way that we care for each other and such a basic building block of our lives. My Authentic Plate is built around the challenges I face and what I do with them. And this is a challenge we deal with every day.*

Bedtime when Daddy is TDY

Bedtime when Daddy is TDY

 

On a bright, late summer day a few weeks ago, I loaded my 4 year old into the car and headed up the road to our neighborhood Target to finish up his school supply shopping. He’s starting pre-K at the local elementary school so this first year of gathering pencils and construction paper is extra exciting and a little bittersweet.

But I didn’t expect my little guy to bring my day to a screeching, heartbreaking stop on that 6 minute drive.

As I pulled out of our neighborhood, in the middle of his normal stream-of-consciousness babble, he asked me “what is a bomb?”

Me: “It’s something that explodes, buddy, why?”

Him: “Why did the bad guys put a bomb on Daddy’s soldier b-ehicle?” (he has trouble with his Vs)

Me: “What are you talking about, bud?”

Him: “The bad guys put a bomb on Daddy’s truck because they wanted him to die. Why did they want him to die?”

I’ll be honest. I had a moment there while driving where I had no idea where I was or what was going on. The only thing I could think about was the fact that our pre-schooler had apparently overheard us, or his Dad while at work (he’s gone into the office with him a couple times recently), talking about his injuries down range.

We talked a little bit about how sometimes for his job, Daddy went far away to help people be safe. And that sometimes people did bad things that we didn’t like (like hitting when my friend won’t share the legos?, he asked).

By the time we got to Target and were getting out of the car, his busy brain had moved on to the exciting prospect of an Icee and new crayons.

My mind and my heart were stuck back in that moment. The realization that our son, on some level, understood that what his idolized Daddy does for a living is dangerous, that he could die. Even if he doesn’t really understand what dying means. And my heart cracked a little on that brief, sunny drive with the sun roof open and the radio on.

Every day on the news, the political blogs, in social media, we are reminded of the financial costs of war. As budgets are cut and belts tightened, we watch politicians sigh and moan over dollars and contracts. They argue and debate the costs of war.

But to experience the true cost of war, they need to help a wounded warrior learn to walk with his prosthetic. They need to watch the recently redeployed soldier struggle to reintegrate with her children while they all battle difficult, conflicting emotions. They need to go with the new widow as she tries to decide where to go with her life now that it is been irrevocably and permanently altered.

And they need to sit in that car and explain to my happy, sensitive, suddenly too serious 4 year old exactly why it is that someone made a bomb to kill his daddy and why he goes there any way.

THEN, they can go back to their wheeling and dealing and posturing for the cameras while they add and subtract the cost of war.

 

2 Comments

  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I’m in denial that I’ll have to have a similar conversation with my daughter some day. It’s a stark realization that this is the world we live in. I’m happy he didn’t dwell on it and was able to go back to being a four year old.

    • Thank you! We’ve had a couple conversation off and on about guns and shooting- I think mostly from seeing commercials with men in uniform shooting. But his understanding on this one really threw me.