How to Help Children Through Wartime
- Denise Duhamel
Mister Rogers says to tell your American young
it's OK to be sad. Present them a globe
rather than a flat map to show-and-tell
how far away the Middle East really is. Stress
that the TV Saudi weather report
doesn´t mean the country is within driving distance. Stress
that their U.S. president assures them that all life is precious,
an Iraqi child's equal to that of an American soldier.
Tell your children this, whether or not
you yourself believe him. Tell children that parents,
be they civilian or soldier, love them regardless
of what soil they're on. Consider letting children know
what the war is really like,
but if your daughter has Nintendo, do not pour blood
instead of milk on her Cheerios. If your son
is in a dangerous gang, let him explain
war to you instead. Encourage all elementary schoolers
to take their chemistry sets to the sandbox.
If you teach art, explain current events
with paper dolls. A strand of red construction paper men:
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Sadam Hussein, et cetera.
Have students crumple up one doll and name him
Noriega. They may throw him in a Dixie cup
that represents a jail. Then you may ask questions
that lead students to notice the resemblance
of one paper man to the next. Have each of the children
pick a doll who represents their favorite.
Instruct them to cut that man up into the teeniest pieces
their safety paper scissors will permit.
Members of the class may begin to get restless, to sprinkle
each other with the crimson bits. Allow this:
confetti, bloodshed, red snow, bombs.