I made the mistake of telling Zachary about the war. I just wanted him to shut up about turning off NPR long enough to hear what the President was saying. So, I explained that a man named George Bush is our President and he had started a war and I wanted to hear why it was still happening. I had to explain that the war was because he was angry at some people in a place called Iraq, which let to myriad discussions about why he might be so angry at the Iraqis.
Now, we seem to have very regular discussions about wars and politics, which would not be so bad if the other half of the conversation were not three-and-three-quarters. Passing an Obama sign in our new neighborhood, I explained how the President was elected by all the people in the United States – so that grown-ups living in Washington like Grandma and Grandpa or in Boston like T or in Philadelphia like A or in Fresno like our cousin or in Los Angeles like us all wrote down who they wanted to be in charge of the whole country and then someone counted and the person that the most grown-ups wrote down gets to be President.
I figured we’re a little young to grasp the Electoral College.
“So the man in the house wants to be President?” he asked of another house with an Obama sign.
“No, honey. He put up that sign to tell people that he thinks a man named Barak Obama would be a good President. He thinks that he is really smart and really nice.”
“But,” Zach replied, “He isn’t nice.”
Fearing I was raising another Alex P. Keaton, I said, “He is very nice.”
“But, Mommy, why is he angry?” Ahhhh… so that’s it. We were returning to the war and the current President.
“Sweetie, George Bush is President right now and he started the war. Barak Obama wants to be President. He didn’t start it.”
And, so it goes, on and on, between conversations about trains and pink and school, we talk about the war and elections, which is preferable to some other questions I have gotten lately about my family of origin and how babies get in bellies (a post for another time).
Here in D.C., the grandparents have set up an art table for use by their various grandchildren. Zach is eagerly making use of the materials, and he made a book for his grandmother. “This is a book about how to stop wars,” he told her. Since my mother-in-law is of the opinion that all guns should be melted down, she was more than happy to take any book on the topic.
Later in the day, I was getting him out of the car. “Mommy,” he said, “why do Presidents have to have wars?”
“They don’t, Zachary. It is the President’s job to make sure we don’t have a war.”
“I am going to write lots of books about how we can compromise to stop wars,” he informed me. He is just not a big fan of guns.
“That’s wonderful baby. Maybe you can be President some day and make sure we don’t have any more wars.”
“No, Mommy. I just want to read books about how to stop wars.” Wonderful. One more academic in the family.