This probably isn't a post that I should linger over for any great amount of time, because my understanding of war is very limited.

The fact that I'm against war in general isn't really the problem. The problem is that I have no interest in war. Nothing about it all grabs my attention. It should, but I've always avoided it where possible. Even in school we spent the first three years of history lessons studying civilisation without broaching the subject of wars and when, given the choice and realising that we would cover both world wars in the next two years of lessons, I chose geography instead and spent many a happy hour counting pebbles per square metre at Murlough Bay.

War simply held no attraction for me.

Lately though, Toots has been showing some interest. More of a natural curiosity really and I, I'm ashamed to admit, have been dodging the subject and distracting her with something like a woman demented.

We spent an hour or so at Ward Park in Bangor on Tuesday afternoon. The sun peaked his head out for a little while, we jumped in the car and were off.

In my mind the afternoon would be spent playing in the adventure playground, having a look at the peacocks (mating season again, what is it with birds and my timing to go see them) and then a stroll around the lake before heading home.

However all bets were off when she set eyes on this;

In my complete ignorance, either I have never noticed the huge cannon dominating the centre of the park before or I simply forgot it was there.

She ran to it, high pitched excited shrieks trailing behind her.

"Wow, mommy what is it?"
"It's a cannon sweetie"
"What's a cannon"
"It's a big gun"
"You said guns were bad"
"Yes, they are bad sweetie"
"Then why is it in a park?"

Um, that stumped me for a second. It's a kids park. The big almighty weapon is parked right beside and within clear view of the playground.

So why, is a hulking great killing machine parked in the middle of a kid's park. A kid's park with a large sign clearly stating that the park is for under 12s.

I tried to explain that it was there to help us remember the people who gave their lives (world war 2 gun and I'm not sure too many of those people willingly gave their lives, but) and to help us learn from mistakes which were made.

And then I stopped.

She seemed satisfied, although I know the subject will come up again (I love to take her to the cenotaph in Ards because its such a peaceful place and she'll get that it isn't a park eventually). She ran off for a few quick laps of the "big gun" before heading to the playground as planned.

My point is that I stopped because I was getting into dangerous territory. I came very close to trying to explain something which I don't understand myself.

I know that a lot of good men, women and children died both fighting wars and at home and I don't want to undermine that fact. I also know that there were a hell of a lot of absolute atrocities which no person walking this earth today should feel proud off and those are the things which stick in mind.

In my opinion she's far, far too young to know or be expected to understand any of that, but is it possible to give a four year old an unbiased opinion of war if your own opinion is biased.

Is it possible to give an unbiased opinion on anything for that matter.

Don't get me wrong I want her to learn some of my opinions and values, bigotry and racism = very bad for example, but shouldn't I allow her to make up her own mind too.

Sometimes I think that it's much to early to concern myself with issues like these, but then I remember that she'll be starting school in less than five months and the thought of somebody's opinion being stamped on my impressionable little girl terrifies me.

I happen to know a hardened racist. Her only complaint about travelling abroad are all the foreigners (and trust me, I've been a hell of a lot more PC in my description). She was brought up with her father's opinion. She has a daughter the same age as Toots and can see no problem with her racist views. So my concern is that where there is one, there is another, and another, and so on.

What would you do? Is she too young yet? Maybe some of these subjects have already came up with your own kids, how did you deal with them.

Is there an "Idiot's Guide" that I haven't been able to find on Amazon.


  1. As much as I hate to self-promote, I covered this in a similar fashion on 11.11 last year:

  2. I spent many a childhood day climbing all over that particular cannon, takes me back to my childhood


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