This morning was an extension of our usual (and yes, also pathetic) weekend routine: Max playing a game on the X-Box, me beside him reading, pretending to be impressed when he says things like, “Mom, I attacked the Death Star!” and “Mom, I killed all the bad droids!”

But around 10:45, I decided it was time to turn off Lego Stars Wars and turn our attention to real war, and all those who have fought, or continue to fight, for our freedom. With the rain pelting down on the crowd gathered at the War Memorial in downtown St. John’s – so much rain, in fact, the bagpipes wouldn’t even work properly – I figured streaming CBC’s live webcast was the least I could do to show my respect.

But first, I had to get Max Skywalker on board. He really had no idea what Remembrance Day was all about, other than a day when everyone wears red poppies in their coats. My super-simplified explanation went something like this:

“Max, this is Remembrance Day. That means we need to stop what we are doing and give thanks to all the soldiers who fought to protect us in the war.”

Confused look. (And Cheerio stuck on neck.)

“Do you know what war is?”


Which is surprising, considering he’s blowing the plastic heads off Lego storm troopers every chance he gets.

“The war is when soldiers… Remember those little soldiers from “Toy Story”? They look a lot like that, but they’re real people… Well, Canada’s soldiers go to other countries to fight to protect us. Sometimes they use guns, to try and keep other people from trying to hurt us.”

I admit, I mentioned the guns to try and garner his interest. He is a little boy who has a toy gun, a bow staff, a sword, and a lightsaber. His eyes kept glancing toward the television where his Star Wars game was on pause.

“Keep watching. They might even fire their guns here now. It’s called a 21-gun salute.”

“Dad says I am not allowed to watch videos of people using real guns.”

Frig. He got me.

“But this is different. They shoot the guns up into the air very safely, and they don’t use bullets. It’s just the noise. It’s about honour.”

Blah blah blah. It was time to shut my big gob.

“Nevermind, buddy. I’ll explain when you’re a little older. You’re right, real guns are bad.”

“Mom, when is this…web cat…going to be over?”

Why you ungrateful…

But then something happened that got his attention. They started laying wreaths at the war memorial. One wreath was being laid by a mother and her two young children, in honour of their father who had been killed in Afghanistan in 2007. They announced it just like that: “…father killed in Afghanistan.” No “fallen in battle” mumbo jumbo, which Max would not have understood. But he knows what “killed” means, and he knows “father” means “daddy.” For the first time, Max began watching my computer screen intently as the little girl took the wreath and laid it down, the hood of her coat covering her face to keep the rain out.

“Mom, where did their dad go?

“He was killed in the war, so I guess he’s up in the sky now or something.”

“And do they still have a mom?”

“Yes. There she is.” I pointed to the lady in the red coat.

After a few more moments in deep toddler thought, he asked, “Can I play Lego Stars Wars again now?”


I think something sunk in. It’s enough for now.

If only every war was fought with Lego.

Photo by Jenny Downing, Flickr
Photo by Jenny Downing, Flickr