Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Now

I don't remember a moment when the choice was absolutely made - when Kirk said definitively that he would not go back to intelligence. Maybe he wasn't comfortable with the decision; maybe he didn't want it to be a decision but a postponed possibility. But somewhere along the line we stopped talking about it as a viable option. Somewhere it just faded into the background, and we took up what we had been doing before 9/11 - learning to live in a civilian world.

There was one small thing he did though. One of the children came home talking about a friend at school whose parents were not letting her trick-or-treat that year. They felt it was too dangerous, that the children might somehow be targeted. This child (Child 2) chose some of its own candy haul, and we augmented with some leftover treats and toys, and it put together a goodie bag for the little girl. But Kirk worried about this irrational fear that was so much in the air at the time. Most particularly he worried about the kids and how the adult terror was being transferred to their children.

So Kirk contacted Child 2's teacher* and suggested he come in and give a short presentation about terrorism and the threat the US was facing. He wanted to give the kids a little perspective about this strange world - to put things in context for them.

He started by telling them a little about the real intelligence world - not the one seen in movies or on television. He told them about a CIA agent who gave a briefing once in Virginia, an overweight, over-blown, overly pretentious type. 'I,' he had said dramatically, rubbing his hands down his round little front, 'am a spy.' The kids marched up to eachother with great delight over the next several weeks puffing out their bellies and declaring themselves spies.

Then Kirk talked about why the terrorists were doing what they were doing. He talked a little about the real Islam, the Islam that the majority practices, and he talked about the differences. He did his best to give the children information, believing that if they understood they would not be afraid.

Then he gave them just a little perspective. There was, he said, very little chance any of them would ever be injured by a terrorist attack. That unreal charicature - turban wearing, bearded, extreme - would almost certainly never come anywhere near them. Far more Americans would be injured this year by an urban terrorist stalking the streets each evening. Then he flashed a picture up of this horror:

And the children laughed, and they asked questions, and the fear was, for one small group at least, punctured and reduced to something they could cope with.

*This teacher deserves a post of his own. Child 2 and Child 3 both got him and he was terrific. Mr. D, if you're out there anywhere, I'd like you to know you're something of a legend in our family and we're doing our best to spread the myth. Hope you're still teaching - and of course still surfing.


Child 1 said...

This week was spirit week at school and today was superhero day. I couldn't think of a way to come dressed up as both my parents.

For Kirk said...

See! I TOLD you my kids were the best kids in the whole wide world. They're also the best trained.

You're my FAVORITE child, child 1.

Child1 said...

I know.

the smarmy child 2 said...

I remember mr. D!! He was AWESOME!!! only he was always on the other team on capture the flag. i wonder why? Child one, it would have sounded much better if you said what i will say.
Mother, today was super hero day, and i couldn't find a way to replicate your beauty and perfection. not to mention your efficiency.

For Kirk said...

Excellent. Child 1, you're bumped down to Child Bulk Rate, Child 2 is now favorite.

Child 1 said...

Well Poo Poo to you, little suck up!