On Howitzers and Pancakes


My nine-year-old boy asked me to wake him up very early today so he can make pancakes for breakfast, and so I did. We had some quality mother-son time at the kitchen as I guided him in following the directions printed on the box of his pancake mix. As a mom, I felt proud at how quickly he learned to slip his spatula smoothly under each pancake and turn them. I thought I saw Spongebob Squarepants wink back at me with pride when I congratulated him.

It has become a tradition - boys in the family need to know how to make their own pancakes so they can have Pancake Sundays
It has become a tradition – boys in the family need to know how to make their own pancakes so they can have Pancake Sundays


Since it’s a Sunday, I made a conscious decision to slow down and just enjoy every second I spend with them at home, despite this strong desire to get up and be “productive.” So after breakfast, we snuggled together on the couch and watched TV. There’s no particular TV show that I like as I only choose what I find informative when I have time to spare, but my boys have their favorites and so I sat next to him with the intent to provide parental guidance. Despite our shortcomings as parents, my husband and I must still be very blessed because the kids still talk to us about their thoughts and whenever they see something on TV or hear something from their peers that they don’t understand, they ask us, thereby providing us the opportunity to discuss the subject. Like most parents, we don’t always have the answers and despite our age we still get very nervous when they begin asking questions (trust me, I’m still so NOT READY for that moment when they’d ask where babies come from), but whenever I’m not sure about the answer, I try to be very honest and ask them to give me some time to research.

This morning was bit different though. The third-grader next to me didn’t ask questions but told me a story and I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for it. We were watching a chronicle of World War I (or was it WW II) on H2 and as his stomach was digesting the pancakes, he blurted out, “Mama, hotwitzer! Pero akong ganahan kay kadto lang ang 105mm howitzer nga 25 miles ang range… Wala naman diay si Hitler sa WWII, naa lang s’ya sa iyang bunker wala kabalo iyang men namatay na diay s’ya. He put a gun in his mouth, gipusil dayun niya iyang brain.” (Look Ma, it’s a howitzer! My favorite though is the 105mm howitzer that has a 25-mile range… Hitler was already dead during WWII, he was in his bunker and his men didn’t know he died. He put a gun in his mouth and shot his brain).


Where did that come from? I was stunned, amazed not by what he knew but at how much I didn’t know as a parent. First of all, how could I remember? Much of what I learned in history class remained in the classroom when I left college. Second, the little kid was talking about suicide! I didn’t know how to react exactly. What on earth was I supposed to say? It was easy for us to explain to them the violence they see in Call of Duty Black Ops and Modern Warfare, or Company of Heroes or Battlefield 4, but suicide…?

“Uh — okay…” I tried very hard not to stammer. “I can’t remember exactly my history lesson, is that how Hitler died? That’s sad, and what he did was very wrong.”

He looked like he understood and agreed with what I said, but since he didn’t seem to take the subject seriously, I chose not to make a big deal out of it for now. However, I have to admit I’m still a little bothered.


Today I just learned from a nine-year-old boy the importance not only of knowing what our children are learning both at home and in school but also of being there to help them evaluate what they learn. Right now we’re at an advantage because we’re still ahead of them when it comes to knowledge, but how long can we really stay ahead? If you would give me some time I’d try to find out, but more than staying ahead I think it’s very important that we’re able to incorporate our family values into their learning.

This is very overwhelming, but for now I’ll take consolation from being able to encourage him to develop his other skills besides developing strategies in Company of Heroes.

I’d very much appreciate it if you could share your thoughts on this or if you have a proven safe way of answering children’s questions, especially about how babies are made.

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