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Lessons from Little Green Army Men

By Andy Warren,

Today we have a guest editorial from Andy Warren as Steve is out of town.

My daughter had an ear infection and sore throat so we went to the local pharmacy/clinic to see a nurse and get some medicine. As we were leaving she asked if she could spend her allowance in the toy section of the store. She browsed and was leaning towards more Pokemon cards when I asked her to consider trying something different (surely we have enough Pokemon cards). She looked again and then asked if she bought the bag of green army men if we could play with them together. Father’s Day came early this year!

We went home and start setting up the pieces. She asked where the flag should go, the tank, the barrier wire and the sandbag bunker. That led to a discussion of defense in depth and guarding the flanks, what a shoulder fired rocket was for, how a tank works and how it used to be that tanks had to stop to shoot accurately, which in turn lead to watching a video of a tank firing. All of this while our green men battled. At one my point I had to retreat and explained the bugle calls, Retreat being my favorite and why Taps isn’t just played at funerals.

She didn’t notice that the toy soldiers were all men, something I’d like to see changed to coincide with the recent announcement that women will be allowed to serve in all combat roles. I was thinking about that as we played. Should we talk about that? My goal in these kinds of moments is to not disrupt the fun, not make it too much about learning, but try to show her the topic is deeper and richer than she might think at first glance.  For this day, military strategy was enough, and for this day it was good to postpone thoughts of my child someday deciding to take on bigger risks.

We had fun. She learned a few things and we’ll build on that. The battles? Somehow in spite of my knowledge I lost all of them!

 
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