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What is the most cringe-worthy thing your children have said either to or in front of you?
“I think I’ll do my book report on Hitler.”
Every Schindler’s List tear I ever shed, every “Star Spangled Banner” I ever sang, and every Fourth of July Firework show — all erased when my son shared that one idea.
Could my son — my precious, bright, little boy, all of 6-years-old — actually be a Nazi sympathizer?
No. As shocking as that was, and as awkward as it was to explain to his teacher, I realize, perfectly, what happened.
It all started with Disneyland (Mickey, please don’t take this out of context).
I’d always wanted my son to go on the Indiana Jones ride, so I did some long range strategy: We played the theme song; I bought him some Indiana Jones LEGO; we watched the opening boulder scene to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
We try to attach a book to everything we are learning about so I made the fateful decision to buy an Indiana Jones book for kids. I read the book carefully, censoring anything necessary “like Nazis” — stuff like that. Then came the question:
“Who is that guy?”
That guy was Adolf Hitler. Rather than just sidestepping the issue, I gave my son context. He loves it, and I love giving it. We talked about how he was one of history’s biggest enemies. How he became the leader of the Axis, and how America joined the Allies. Each question opened up another lesson that created another ripple of context so nothing would be misinterpreted.
So after a few more books, a bunch more stories, and learning to play Axis and Allies the board game, we decided to shift the focus on his book report. My wife picked up a special issue of Time magazine — The Most Influential People in History, or something like that, and we decide to look for someone else for the book report.
It went something like this….
Me: Okay, Christian, let’s see what kind of famous people we can write about. There’s George Washington …
Me: There’s Marin Luther King …
Christian: We just talked about him. Maybe someone else.
Me: (flipping the page)
Me: We talked about that already.
Christian: But I want to teach those Nazi’s a lesson so everyone knows how evil they are.
Me: That’s great son, but how about we pick someone else? You know, so no one feels uncomfortable.
Christian: (sighs) Okay, but I’m going to call those Nazis and tell them they’re finished.
Me: (trying not to laugh.)
He ended up doing his book report on Albert Einstein, the Indiana Jones ride is now his favorite, and he roots for the Allies like an American kid from 1945.
Chris Lynam is a father of 3, and the creator of #DADventure. He writes about parenting, relationships, and fitness. You can read more from Quora here:
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