Yesterday my son came home from school with a drawing of a turkey under a purple and blue sky. Underneath the picture he had written “I am thankful for my mom.” I was understandably touched and told him as much.
He shrugged nonchalantly and said, “We were supposed to draw a Thanksgiving picture and write what we were most thankful for so of course I said you. What else would I write?”
“Well,” I said slowly, “I didn’t know about the project ahead of time so I didn’t have any expectations but you could have written a number of different things. You could have said you were thankful for your toys or something.”
My son looked at me with an expression that hinted of shock and then suddenly collapsed into a fit of laughter. “Mom,” he gasped in between giggles, “nobody would write that they’re more thankful for their toys then they are for the people who they love!” And then he started laughing even harder because to him just articulating the idea was so incredibly silly.
There are a lot of grown-ups who have a hard time with the concept of putting people ahead of material possessions and yet a six-year-old boy finds the very idea of that level of materialism so absurd that it’s literally laughable. It got me thinking…at what point will my son realize that there are an enormous number of people in this world with seriously messed up values? Will it be something he slowly comes to terms with or will there be a sudden epiphany brought on by the thoughtless action of some idiot? I remember telling him about the story of my great-grandfather being kidnapped by the Russian army. My son looked at me in utter confusion and said, “But I thought armies were there to protect people.” That was one of those epiphany moments. He learned that day that sometimes governments don’t even try to do what’s best for the people. Sometimes it’s all about the leaders. Those are the lessons that I dread teaching my son. I have no hang-ups about talking to him about sex, drugs and all that stuff. That’s easy. But teaching him about some of the awful things people do to one another and the justifications they use (religion, and the like), that’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
But I don’t usually dwell on all that and I’m certainly not going to dwell on it during Thanksgiving. Instead I’m going to take a moment to send up my own message of thanks. I’m thankful for my friends, family, and of course for my writing career and all you wonderful readers. But above all else I’m thankful that I have a son who constantly reminds me of what’s important in life. To say that I love him with all my heart is an enormous understatement.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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