Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Out Of The Mouths Of Children

When you work with the public, there are times when you hear people say the most ridiculous things. Other times, you hear things that really make you pause.

While I was at work on Tuesday night, I helped an old white woman and what looked to be her grandson (or maybe nephew). He probably had to be no more than about seven or eight years old.

The woman was looking for life jackets for children. As she looked at our selection, the boy looked at me and said “Can I ask you a personal question?”

I didn't really get a chance to answer when he proceeded to drop this bombshell: “How do you stop someone from going to the Army?”

I was kind of taken aback by that, but I answered honestly that I hadn't the slightest idea.

The boy then told about how he planned to shave someone's eyebrows so that when he went to Iraq, he'd have to wear a cap all the time. He told me that his plan would work because the person's mother would be around.

The older woman didn't so much as acknowledge that the boy told me all this and after he finished talking, she asked me some questions about the life jackets. I didn't bring up what he said to her and once they were done, I told them to have a nice day.

The thing that got me about what the boy said wasn't so much the implication that someone he knew was going to Iraq. It was the way he said it. He had a mischievous smile on his face the whole time he told me. It was his devious little plan to try and keep the person he knew from going to Iraq.

The sad thing about this is that his plan won't work, just like how kids try to keep their parents from divorcing. That person he knows, whether it's his brother, uncle, cousin, or family friend, is going to Iraq and there's nothing he can do about it.

But at the moment he told me all this, that boy was innocent enough to think that maybe, just maybe it would work. And that just seems so sad to me.

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