As the horrific events of September 11 unfolded, I may have been changing my son’s diaper or chasing him around the house.
Connor was born 18 months before the terrorists struck and twin towers collapsed. Obviously, he has no recollection of that dreadful day.
But he’s an attentive, media-obsessed kid, so Connor has seen or heard plenty about September 11 in the past decade.
As the nation commemorates the day that forever changed us, I wondered what Connor would say about September 11. How much did he know, and what was his take on the unprecedented tragedy?
I’d never asked him until today.
I picked up him after school, as usual, and almost immediately said I wanted to ask him a question.
“What?” he replied.
“What do you know about September 11?”
“Osama Bid Laden was behind it,” Connor said. “He ordered those planes to come over and kill us.”
Correct so far.
I didn’t get a chance to ask another question before he offered commentary.
“Still, we shouldn’t have killed him,” Connor said. “That was wrong. He was a human being too.”
My ears perked up in surprise.
Honestly, I expected him to say something like this:
“He deserved to be killed. He should have died a long time ago. It was awesome when we took him out. I was so happy.”
Keep in mind, this is a kid who loves violent video games – the more violent, the better. He never complains about murder scenes in movies. He likes mixed martial arts, and he’s said he wants to be a soldier.
So I had every reason to believe Connor would have advocated killing Osama Bin Laden in the most violent, painful way possible.
Turns out, Connor is a closet peacenik. Isn’t it amazing how we can be completely wrong about our kids sometimes?
Today, I learned that just because Connor likes scenes of murder and revenge in video games or movies, he isn’t cavalier about killing an actual person.
In this case, he was particularly appalled that some Americans openly celebrated Bin Laden’s death.
“That was horrible,” Connor said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
I was intrigued by his remarks, so I pressed further.
“If someone attacks us,” I asked, “should we fight back?”
“Of course,” Connor said. “We should defend ourselves. We do have enemies.”
But instead of killing Bin Laden, the U.S. should have captured him and interrogated him, he said.
“We could have gotten a lot of useful information,” Connor said.
Plus, killing Bin Laden inflamed some of our enemies and could make us less secure, he said.
Wow. Is this my 11-year-old son talking? Where did he get this nuanced sense of right and wrong?
Honestly, I tend to be a black-and-white guy. I didn’t openly rejoice when Osama Bin Laden was killed. But I was happy and had thoughts of payback. I never second-guessed our military’s decision to take him out.
But my son does. I felt a little foolish that I had so completely misread him. What else don’t I know about him?
Our kids don’t always adopt our values. And that can be a good thing.