Today we ate at the big mess hall (also known ‘round these parts as “the baseball one” because of the sports memorabilia displayed there). We sat in our usual section, a smallish section (maybe 8 tables) behind the wall where the desserts and coffee machines are. The rest of the section filled in with some very friendly Afghani soldiers. Wee Laddie was in full-on charm mode, grinning at and playing with some of the soldiers at the next table. One of them asked if he could take a picture of Wee Laddie. Back home this would have made me pretty uncomfortable, and it still did a little but I followed Guitarman’s lead and let him. Out pop all the camera phones and next thing we know it’s a huge photo-op for all the soldiers and they’re passing my kid around like a bottle of cheap wine. Hmm. Mama Bear instincts kicked in a little but, you know, we were right there.
As we left, Guitarman told me that a co-worker had told him that the Afghani soldiers are like that. This other guy had run into some at the laundry one day and he had his little dog with him… they all wanted to take pictures with the dog. So that’s why my normally very protective husband handed our son over to strangers today.
Wee Laddie and I had to make a stop at the PX after lunch, and our lunch friends were there, too, standing out in front. One of the guys from lunch gestured me over and we went, and they again wanted to take pics with Wee Laddie. I let them. This time there were some American soldiers right there, too. After a minute or so, the American soldiers jumped in and were like, “Okay that’s enough,” and “You guys have to stop grabbing babies from their mothers!” They apologized to me and I said that we’d met them at lunch and that they’d asked first. They seemed relieved, but still told the guys to cut it out. It must be a major problem with them.
So I was thinking about why they would do that, and how things are so rough over in Afghanistan right now, and how fortunate we are to be able to go about our day and feel safe and not have to worry about our family’s safety and all that. (Okay, we worry, but many of us are so lucky.) And these guys don’t have a reasonable expectation of safety in their daily lives. And as soldiers in Afghanistan, what is their life expectancy? I don’t even know. I don't really think I want to know.
Then tonight when I went online, I saw a headline about Afghani children getting killed in a US airstrike. The airstrike was approved by the Afghani gov’t or police or whomever, but still. I thought of those friendly guys at lunch and how sad this all must make them.