Du bist as Nazi, du bist a Nazi!
I turn in horror.
He’s a little boy. Maybe four years old. His blonde hair curls at his ears…his blue eyes sparkle with the sort of mischief I should expect from a little boy at the park with his friends without supervision.
And the other boy…three years old…sweet…innocent….wild at times…especially when he’s found candy…but mostly beautifully kind and generous, knows he’s been called something and doesn’t like how it feels.
He sticks his tongue out.
Ani Lo! Ani David Simcha!
Du bist a Nazi!
Now I know I heard right.
I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do.
I look at him with what I know can be a scary look, and lower my voice.
He backs away, laughing, and runs off with his friend.
Du bist a Nazi.
I can’t explain this. He’s a little boy. He doesn’t know what a Nazi is.
And my little boy…he doesn’t know what a Nazi is.
But now he’s been called one. And I am tormented by what I know is much bigger than this.
He’ll grow up, my little boy, and he won’t remember the incident. Hopefully, he’ll remember how I gently reprimanded him for sticking his tongue out at other kids, how I always reminded him that he needs to be careful not to hurt other people’s feelings and how he needs to treat everyone with the respect they deserve just by being human.
My little boy will know that I try to accept everyone and maybe he’ll try to do the same. He’ll know that we don’t group people together by how they dress or what school they go to. He’ll know that we believe in breaking boundaries and reaching out across the divide to love and cherish our fellow-man. He’ll know that his mother cringes when people fight and that she cries for those who can’t see past their differences.
He’ll grow up, my little boy, and make the choices to be the kind of man he thinks he should be.
There will be a blond man with sparkling blue eyes out there somewhere…and I hope he can make choices as well. I hope he can learn to discard what he hears at home and see the world with the same carefree way, knowing that he can always choose to look at someone who looks like my son and say something derogatory, nothing at all, or maybe…something that can unite us again.
For now…I sit with the voice of a little boy inside my head…reverberating pointless hatred and anger…and try desperately not to cry.