Saturday--October 19, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 402
I Am My Grandson's
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, October 19 -- It was a frightening feeling--the idea I was my
grandson's first Terrorist--his first taste of Fear, Intimidation and
My Terrorism was inflicted by
accident upon the almost four-month-old, conceived in the ash of Nine Eleven,
born as a symbol of Vigilance in a world riddled with Terrorisms.
I hadn't planned to be his first
I hadn't plotted to be the one who
drove the spike of Fear into his heart, causing him to recoil into a ball
of tears, tiny fists clenched, eyes squinted as the howl of his frightened
Voice cut through the quiet of the night.
I stood in shock, watching my wife
rush over to Baby Angus, coo and comfort him until his whimpers ceased,
and he returned back to a state of contentment, perhaps more wary than
before of the six-foot-four-inch "monster" who had, a few moments earlier,
stood above him and played "peek-a-boo."
It was baby sitting night for
the three kids, Matt, 6, Sarah, 4 and Baby Angus. Angus is a
happy baby. He is a content little guy whose smile beams at
everyone. He doesn't cry or fuss except when he's hungry, and
would be classed as a "Grade-AAA" baby were little ones measured like
quality and "Jumbo" when it came to size.
Many say Baby Angus looks like
me because he has rich brown eyes and facial features not unlike mine.
I consider it an honor when such comments are heard.
Plus, he's a stout little guy
who gobbles up food--milk--and has the body of an "Angus," a bull-like
countenance that perhaps will evolve into a hulking form able to throw a
caber or appear on ESPN "World's Strongest Men" competition pulling
tractors with his bare teeth.
He has big eyes, that flick and
roam the room in search of movement and faces to connect with, as though
eager to rush into the madding stream of life and bypass the crawling and
gooing stages, leaping right into playing with his brother's and sister's
Rescue Hero figures or building castles or forts with wooden blocks, or swinging on
the monkey bars at the local playgrounds.
So it shocked me when he
crumbled into spasms of fear at my peek-a-boo game, and sent a surge of Fear
through me that I might be his first "Terrorist."
Earlier I had played the game
with him. Angus was sitting in my wife's lap and I was within a few
inches of his face, covering mine with the palm of my large hand as I
said: "Peeeeeeekkkkk---aaaaahhhh---" and then moving my hand quickly
down to uncover my face saying...."Booooooooo!" He giggled,
when I did it. His eyebrows quirked upward in a manner already
renowned as the 'Angus brow-ism'. His big brown eyes sparkled.
Later that evening he was
on the floor, inside his little baby rocker. His chocolate eyes were
looking up at me as he lay contented, watching with anticipation.
I stood six-foot-four inches above him, 270 pounds above him,
looking down. I thought I'd play the game again for us
both to enjoy.
I put my hand over my face and said:
"Peeeeeekkkkk....ahhhhhhh..." and then quickly pulled it down and said,
He didn't respond. He
just looked up at me. I repeated the
play game. Only this time Angus' eyes grew very wide, as
though I had tossed a glass of ice water on him. His face
scrunched up suddenly and his mouth opened. It was all in slow
motion to me as his little fists balled and his eyes squinched and he began to
howl the howl of the wounded pup, frightened and alone in the wilderness,
screaming for the security of its mother or father, lost in the dark dank
wilderness of Terror's forest.
I can't say if my grandson has been
Terrorized before. Our daughter and son-in-law didn't think so
when they came home and we told the story of Baby Angus's recoil reaction
to my second round of peek-a-boo.
Angus has the most loving home and it
is unlikely that he receives any Terror other than his cries for food or
when his diapers are full--but those are physical discomforts.
I struck his Emotional Terror button.
Putting myself in his place, I was a
huge body looming overhead like a World Trade Center icon. Perhaps my
Voice or its tone struck some Fear cord, triggered the primal concern of
my size and the danger it presented to the small, weak, unprotected.
When I was in the Marine Corps I
hated the derogatory term attributed to us as "baby killers," and sought to
be as gentle with children as possible because of the stigma those words
left on me. I also had to guard my Voice, for I could
easily rim it with a growl, letting the Beast Within escape to warn those
around me to beware of my wrath.
Perhaps Baby Angus saw in me the
Terrorist I so try to control--the one I know that lurks within all
people--large or small.
I knew that Baby Angus would now see
me in a different light than his mother and father, my wife, his brothers
and sisters. I would have a Scarlet "T" on my forehead, the
guy who "scared him," the guy who "made him cry."
I knew that wariness. As
a child, I was wary of my father--my stepfather. He was big
and gruff and I was small and vulnerable. He was prone to violence
and I learned at early age both submission and defiance. But there
was never trust between us, for the violence was always hovering like
nuclear fallout, waiting to descend.
I wondered about Parents of Non-Vigilance.
Would they not think of the impact their acts of "Terror," had upon a
child--loud Voices, angry words shot between husband and wife--arguments
over money--lashing out at the children to "shut up"--neglecting their
desire to sense trust and love in the sanctuary of a home?
When I became a parent, I chose to be a Parent of
Vigilance. I guarded my emotions as I might a loaded weapon, trying
to corral my angers, my resentments, my ferocity. I wasn't
always successful, but when I did explode I followed up with an
explanation to my children, attempting to let them know that I was wrong
in my actions, exposing my vulnerabilities so I could neutralize any Fear,
Intimidation or Complacency I might have showered upon them.
As a Child of Terror, I knew the deep wounds that never heal
when a child feels the abandonment of love and trust, and lives a life of
walking on eggshells hoping not to crunch any for fear of being the brunt
of a parent's wrath. I knew many children live in that kind of
Terror, waiting for the explosion to occur--the anger to erupt, the words
slung like sledgehammers driving them to their bedrooms, or to a corner
where they waited for the storm to pass.
I knew such fear could be subtle. It comes
through emotional neglect as well as physical peristalsis. It
could be as mundane as not asking a child how his or her heart was, or
showing a sincere interest in the child's feelings. It could come in
forcing a child to become some image the parent of had of what the child
should be, making the child into a reflection of what the parent wasn't or
wanted to be, or expected the child to be, while denying the child his or
her rights of individuality. It could come in demanding
unearned respect, or by favoring one child over another, or telling a
child he or she "should be more like" someone else, or that he or she
wasn't as smart as, or any other demeaning denouncement of a child's
I knew Angus would survive his first Terrorism.
He would survive it because he was a Child of Vigilance, with parents and
grandparents who focus their attention on the right of the child to live
in Vigilance, not in Terror.
But it still bothered me I was the source of that
Terrorism. It made me more aware of the Beast of Terror within
me who slips out when least expected as a reminder that Terror lives
within me as well as Vigilance, and that its acidic nature can creep into
my being without my awareness. Angus saw it. Angus felt it.
It also reminded me that I am on the right track.
To be aware that my grandson had suffered his
first attack of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency by me spurred me to
insure he was bolstered with the Shield of Vigilance--the Courage,
Conviction and ability to take the Right Actions to stand up to any
Terrorist--even his grandfather.
And, I vowed to never play peek-a-boo with Angus
except on his level--eye-to-eye rather than from six-feet-four-inches
above. And, to say "Boooooooo...." with
I hoped also more parents and
grandparents would do the same.
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