Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rifles For Watie

I was trying to come up with a good Christmas gift idea for Khalil, so I started thinking of what I liked when I was his age. Then it hit me: Rifles for Watie!. I was just about Khalil's age when a teacher got a copy from the school library and challenged me to read it. Khalil is so sharp and inquisitive that I felt he could handle the same challenge, so I went to Borders and bought a copy.

I'd accidentally double-booked, so after hopping a train west to see Khalil I had to zip back to Penn Station and uptown for a caroling party. But at least I had time to share another Italian Burger with Khalil and give him his gift. I told him how my teacher had challenged me with the book, and how I didn't appreciate it at the time. In fact I thought she was a little bit nuts thinking I could read this adult book! But I rose to the challenge and finished the book, and to this day I feel proud of that. I told Khalil all this, and how I thought he could do it too. I also mentioned that I realize he might not relate to it as I did; after all, I was a country boy reading a story of a country boy who runs off to join the Union Army. I told him "It's OK for you not to read it if you don't find it interesting, but don't think you can't read it. Because I think you can."

Back on the eastbound New Jersy Transit platform there was a cold wind blowing, but I had a nice warm spot in my heart.

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