At 17 going on 35, our son Mathew acts like he gets annoyed whenever Suzanne and I talk about things he said and did as a toddler. I suspect, though, that he secretly likes it, just as he liked being the center of attention when he WAS a toddler).
Lately we seem to talk about this more often than usual. Like when we pass through the diaper aisle of the supermarket, and we remember when Mathew was struggling with potty training — our idea of placing the potty in the living room to avoid accidents, resulted in him picking up the thing and dancing around with it, singing “The potty has eyes!” … a completely original composition inspired by we-have-no-idea what.
Or when he first became protective of his mother at less than a year old; a little dog held by a passerby near our home decided to bark at her, and Mathew gestured threateningly at the animal, making it clear to the dog that he better leave his mama alone. He did.
Maybe Suzanne and I are recalling all these things more, because Mathew is so quickly approaching adulthood.
But just as the memories are becoming more persistent, another set of thoughts has fought for my attention. I can’t help thinking about the more than 4,000 families, everywhere from our Brooklyn neighborhoods to small towns and big cities across the country, who also have memories about the trials and joys of their children, a year or two or three older than Mathew, except that’s all they have, since these boys, and some girls, have all died in Iraq.
I believe that if those who decide to send our children to war, were to take a few minutes to think about the memories of raising their own children — their first words, their first time on a bicycle, their first day of school — they might decide differently.
They might decide that it would be better to allow all the other parents of America to laugh at the memories — instead of weeping.
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