Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Patriot Day Conversation with an 8-year-old


This morning I said to my son Jonas that it was Patriot Day. He asked if that meant he was off from school, and I said no but suggested he wear his flag shirt to school.

He asked what the 4th of July was, so we discussed Independence Day and the split from England. He asked if we were celebrating our independence today, and I explained that no, we were instead remembering when our country was attacked and the people who died that day.

He asked if I was alive when it happened, and I said yes. He asked what happened, so we talked a little about the planes and the buildings and the passengers who worked together to make sure the fourth plane didn’t hit another building.

Then he said, “You know what it reminds me of? When the whites hated the blacks. I read a book about it. It was about a man named Luther Martin King Junior, or something like that.”

I said, “Martin Luther King, Junior. Yes. He was an important man who did a lot of good work. We still have more work to do.”

Jonas said he remembered reading about it, but he couldn’t remember where it happened. I said it happened here in our country. He explained to me that a white man shot Martin Luther King, Jr. and he thinks “shooting someone is a sin, so that white man is probably in hell and not in heaven.”

And I watched him and marveled as he connected all these dots of hatred and violence.

I worry about how a parent is supposed to have these conversations with an 8-year-old, then I suddenly find myself right in the middle of one and being amazed that so much wisdom is in this sweet, young human who 15 minutes later required me to repeat “turn off the TV and grab your backpack” five times.

The point is that it's easy to get caught up in the minor aggravations of the day-to-day. We should remember that there are bigger concerns we could be putting our attention toward. An 8-year-old reminded me of that today.