When I went to pick up Robby from school last week, I was greeted at his classroom door by both his teacher and school principal. My alarm always rises when I see them together, fearful that Robby has done something. It turns out that they did want to talk to me. The panic on my face must have tipped them off, because they prefaced the conversation by letting me know that Robby had done nothing wrong and was not in trouble.
His teacher was talking with the class about Veteran's Day when she asked the students a simple question. "What is a Veteran?" Considering that these are second graders, I was shocked to learn that my son was the only one who raised his hand. I must admit to feeling a surge of maternal pride when I learned that Robby was the only one who knew the answer. I gave myself a silent "Well Done Mom" and continued to listen to the story.
Robby explained to his class that a Veteran is somebody who has served in the military. He relayed that they have worked hard so that he can play and have fun. It is a very hard job. His teacher, satisfied with his answer, was about to elaborate. Unfortunately, Robby was not done sharing. "Let me tell you one more thing, and this is important. If you join the army when you grow up, stay away from IED's. Those son of a b*tches will get you every time."
I immediately found myself feeling defensive about my parenting abilities. I began stammering out explanations of him meeting Wounded Warriors and overhearing their conversations. I must have been talking in circles trying to escape the shame of his language because his teacher stopped me and said, "It's okay. We love that he has such wonderful and unique experiences."
After Robby's warning, the classroom conversation drifted from Veteran's Day to the Wounded Warriors Robby has met over the years. He regaled them with stories of missing limbs and amazing prosthetic accomplishments. His class asked, and the teacher agreed, to make a poster to thank the Wounded Warriors as a Veteran's Day project. It turns out that the pair were waiting at the classroom door to ask my assistance in delivering the class poster to Walter Reed.
I am printing the photos featuring the Wounded Warriors and the poster to share with his class, but I am not including them in this blog. The individuals gave permission to share their image with the students, but I do not want to violate an implied trust by publishing them here. Mary Ann did a great job of taking the poster on a tour around the hospital!