Yesterday, at the range, my son met a man who is a double amputee who lost both of his legs while serving our country. It was the first time he had ever seen someone with a prosthetic limb of any kind. Being the incredibly curious (and highly intelligent) four year old that he is, naturally he wanted to take in every last detail. I explained to the man that he is our future engineer/doctor and just HAS to know how everything works. He said he didn’t mind and proceeded to tell my son that he was in fact half robot. (I couldn’t help but grin at that one.)
Knowing my child, I KNEW he wouldn’t accept that explanation and would want to hear something that makes sense (he is SO literal). Of course, he turned to me and proceeded to ask, “Mommy, where are his legs? There are no feet in his shoes! What happened?” I said, “Well Bud, I don’t know. Maybe he will tell you if you ask him.”
He turned to the man and asked him, innocently, “What happened?” The man then explained to him that he had been hurt and a doctor gave him “new legs.” After a solemn response of, “Oh,” from my son, the man grinned and asked him if he could count to ten. J got excited and said, “Yes,” so the man held out his hands and said, “Okay. How many fingers do I have?”
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine… MOMMY! HE HAS NINE FINGERS! I HAVE TEN! HE LOSED ONE FINGER! WHERE DID IT GO?!”
The man couldn’t help but laugh at his shock and explained that when his legs got hurt, he lost a finger as well. My son spent the next 10 minutes or so checking out the carbon fiber and every last nut and bolt on the man’s prosthetic legs and grinning at the man like he was the coolest person he’d ever met.
On our car ride home last night, I explained in a little more detail how that man had “lost” his legs. In the most four-year-old-appropriate manner I could, I told him that the man was a former Special Forces soldier who had been hurt during a fight overseas with some “bad guys.” I told him that the man is a veteran. He listened silently as I explained that veterans are people who deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. I told him about how brave they are and how there is so much that they sacrifice to keep our country safe and protect the people that live here.
Little did I know, I would see just how cool he thought that man was today.
This morning, he wanted to “sword fight” with my husband. My husband pretended to get him and J fell to the floor and said, “OH NO! I lost my legs!”
I was shocked. I didn’t know how to respond.
Then he jumped up and loudly proclaimed, “I’ve got NEW legs, BAD GUY!” and charged back into the fight.
I could not be more proud of him for choosing to pretend play as a veteran of our armed services today, and with such gusto.
I pray that he always views them as the heroes that they are and that he shakes the hand of every single one he meets on his journey through life.
Thank you to all of the vets out there who have served our great country.
And thank you to the man who helped teach my son about true heroes yesterday.