November, 1981

Whenever I walk my son to school, I always go through Parque Colon. It’s a little out of the way, but I like the park, and I buy Valentin an empanada when the vendor is in the park. It also cuts around what would be on the way if we went more directly, the Plaza de Mayo. I have never consciously avoided the plaza, but when my Valentin, who’s geography of the city is improving rapidly, suggested we walk a different way to school today, I flinched. I want my son to understand what is happening in this country, but I don’t want it to be forced in front of his face. I want him to know that he is safe, and I don’t know if he is old enough to know about everything that is happening in this country. When he asked to go by the plaza, I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so we went.


Of course, inquisitive little Valentin does not walk past a demonstration with posters without finding out whatever he possibly can. He immediately ran up to one of the women and asked what she was holding a picture of. She replied “This is my Husband, Ignacio Martinez. He was disappeared in 1977. I stand here today demanding to know where they have taken my husband, and to hold the junta accountable for its actions.” Valentin asks “What do you mean disappeared? Did he run away?” But before he gets a response I remind him that he’s going to be late for school, and drag him out of the square.


That night, Valentin is a buzz with questions, and I am in the unfortunate position of having at least some of the answers. Fernando thinks that it is time to tell him. He has been saying this for quite some time. Fernando likes to talk about the government more than I do, his coworkers are much more political than I am. Someday Fernando will explain this mess to Valentin, but I stopped him this time. Valentin is such a sensitive child, and he has such a strong sense of right and wrong, I worry about how he will react.


1 thought on “November, 1981

  1. ssvolk says:

    It’s hard to know when to tell children, but they often know more than we think they do.

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