Here was a disturbing conversation I had with my 9 year old son last night:
"Mama, when I get older, I think I'm going to join the Army."
"Wha? Why on earth would you want to do that?"
"Because it looks exciting. You get to give teddy bears to babies and rescue them and stuff."
"They only show you that on TV so that you'll join up. The rest of the time you are either really bored or doing really dangerous things."
"Soldiers die a lot" (trying not to sound worried)
"They get blown up"
"So? Daddy died."
"Yea, but he didn't get blown up."
"Well he sort of did."
"OK, but he didn't choose to. (changing tacks here) When you are a soldier, you have to do really hard things in training, and you have to live in bunks with tons of other soldiers."
"So? That sounds like fun."
"You are not joining the army." (really putting my foot down here)
"Because I said so. And because you need to go to college and get a good job"
"Could I go to Military School?"
"That's a sleepover school. I thought you didn't want to leave home?"
"Well, when I'm older it will be OK."
"I don't want you to join the army."
"Great Grampa was in the army."
"Yea, but that was different"
"It just was. (stalling for a reason here, one I can't find) Everyone joined the army then. It was the second World War."
"So? If he did, why can't I?"
"Because I said so. I don't want you to die." (finally being honest)
"Because it would make me really sad. We are so moving back to Canada!"
"Why can't I join?"
"Fine, if you want to join that much, then go for it. I don't care!" (reverse psychology anyone?)
"Are you kidding? You are! You're kidding right?"
"No. If you want to join, its your choice. But I don't think it would be a good choice. Its not one I agree with anyway."
The reality of being a soldier and how a soldier's family must feel when a child declares this as his/her life choice has just hit me square between the eyes. It scares me to death.