Anders drew a picture before bed tonight. When I asked him to tell me about it, he explained that he puts on a show at recess every day with his friends called "War."
So I asked him to explain it further.
"Well, the girls are bad, and the boys are good. And the girls try to get the boys. This is a dead guy, and next to him is a poem hole, and there are distress signals coming out of it."
"What is next to him? A 'poem hole'? What is that?"
Anders: "Just forget about that. These are distress signals exploding up in the sky."
Me: "Ok, so who is this guy, then, and what is he thinking about?" (because there was a stick guy standing above the "dead" guy with a thought bubble coming out of his head."
Anders: "That's T (name of his friend, a boy). And he's thinking of 'no peace,' because he's a bad guy now, because D (another friend, a girl) got him." This is when I realize the picture in the thought bubble is a peace symbol surrounded by the international NO symbol.
Me: "Ok, so D got T, and so he's bad. Who's this guy up here (above the other two)?"
Anders: "That's C (another friend, boy) who is dropping a rock, I mean, a giant snowball on T and D."
Me: "Where are you?"
Anders: "I wasn't in this show picture. T told me I was supposed to die in this one, and I went through three deaths: First, I was a zombie, then I was a skeleton, and then I was a ghost." He says this as if it's common knowledge that these are the stages of the afterlife.
When I was a kid, we played war. We even had "Wheaton War 3," our name for the war (which was named for the street we lived on). We threw black walnuts and pine cones at each other, and locked up prisoners in the pine trees behind the house. I even remember a gigantic bruise on my friend's arm after being pegged by one of those walnuts.
I tell this story because I think I grew up to be a well-adjusted adult. It helps me to remember that playing war on the playground isn't going to lead my son down some horrible path to Apocalypse Now or something. Still, it's a little surprising to hear my 5 year old talk about war.