The Wall

They don't want to listen to me.  They want to run and in general cause the type of destruction usually reserved for sci-fi movies involving large monsters and robots.  The older two are inching toward the next exhibit but I am refusing to allow them to leave by using my "THIS IS IMPORTANT" stare.  It held more power when they were younger.  At 8 and 6, I feel like perhaps they have become immune to this.  The baby doesn't want to listen to me either but that's no surprise, he never listens.  He wants to see if he can cause more damage than his older siblings.  There is a priceless object just within reach and if he can just get out of my hands, he can cause the family to go bankrupt before he reaches the age of 2, quite the accomplishment.

But I'm not letting any of them go until I've said my piece.  As a Dad, we have to do certain things.  We have to be strong, we have to offer that sense of safety and security that they won't have as adults.  We have to provide discipline and rules and the flexibility for them to challenge them as they get older.  And sometimes by God we have to give lectures about important shit because one day they will appreciate this and if they don't then I've screwed up. 

To them, this is just a wall with a few grafitti marks on it.  One has a spray painted shark, the other has some weird looking words that they don't understand.  If I wouldn't ahve made them stop in their blinding race down the exhibit hall, they wouldn't even have noticed it.  Maybe that's a good thing, to not notice oppression.  Maybe it's bad because how will they know it?

To me and many others, these two sections of wall are symbols of a very scary time.  It's the symbol of a divided city, surely, but much more.  The pieces of the Berlin Wall that I am staring at are symbols of a cold war that is hopefully gone forever.  They are the symbol of nuclear destruction, of a red army that none of us really knew how big it was.  It's the symbol of two superpowers playing other nations like pawns as we squared off on each other for pretty much world domination. 

My kids don't care.  To the them, the spray painted shark is not good, not good at all.  They have declared that it is something that they could do easily, Jackson Pollock was a pussy.  Little Hoss wants some spray paint so she can show the artist what a really awesome shark looks like.  Bubba Hoss is just turning in circles, he's not even listening.

This is when I lose my shit.  I like to think that I don't often lose it but I would know that's probably a lie. 

I grab some necks and knell down beside them.  We look at the wall.  I try to compress the history of the last 50 years that the wall represents into under a minute.  Their attention spans are that of gophers.  If I put some ice cream on the wall, perhaps they would pay attention.  I can feel my son squirming.  "This is important!" I tell them.

I tell them about the red scare, of the weapons pointed at our very country.  I tell them of geopolitics and of unwitting nations used as chess pieces.  I tell them of a culture of fear and from that fear, greed that came with it.  I get tripped up on myself.  I'm not really sure how to convey the cold war in such small terms, in a way that they will understand. 

The baby is now trying to pull down my pants.  He's got a thing right now for my pants, I have no idea why.  Maybe they offend his tiny sensibilities in some way.  Maybe he thinks denim isn't the right fashion choice for a man of my stature.  I'm not sure really.  He's just yanking really hard on my waist as I am kneeling talking to the other two. 

Then he drops a cheerio down my butt crack.  It gets lodged in there. 

I think it's about time for my lecture to come to an end.  I tell them to turn around more time and look at the pieces of the Berlin Wall that are displayed.  I pick up Bacon and point him at the wall too.  He'll have no memory of this but at least I will.  I tell my kids that they won't know why until much later in life but what they are seeing is actually very important. 

No, it doesn't move.  No, It's never been in space.  Yes, it's just a wall.  An ordinary wall and that right now, that's pretty much the point.  It's just an ordinary wall. 

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