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Posted on Jun 13, 2008 in Stuff We Like

Armchair General Toddler Program

By Brian King

As a case in point, I was recently playing a game of Combat Mission: Afrika Korps with a good friend of mine when my son climbed up on my lap, curious as to what was going on at my computer.  Little did I realize he would become fascinated by the little men and tanks moving around the screen and he is incredibly excited when a tank blows up and smoke billows up from the wreckage.  I couldn’t make this up – Gabe and I sat looking at wreckage on the screen for very nearly an hour straight the other night.  I’m not sure how long he would have forced me to scroll around the map looking at every burning vehicle and building, but we had to break for dinner… The next day he was asking to see the smoke again!  I give you the perfect convergence of hobby and father-son time at age 2!


We recently had a visit from the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial, aka "The Wall."  This is a 4/5 replica of the original Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. which allows those of us unable to visit the real memorial to at least get a sense of it.  Even with a precocious 2 year old at my side, I had an amazing visit and it was moving to see some of the veterans find their buddies’ names, some of them breaking down…  Again, my son couldn’t know the reason behind the emotion but I intend to make sure that one day he does.  I snapped this candid while he was investigating a flower.

Little Armchair General at the traveling Vietnam Memorial

Finally, one of my favorite adventures with my son was to an event called World War II Weekend. Here we could get our fill of tanks, tents, reenactors, period clothing, moving vehicles, firing guns, and everything else World War II which they could roll into the park.  Gabe got his first real taste of reenacting, and his first exposure to the loud booming guns of tanks!  My first reaction was that they were incredibly loud and I thought for sure he was going to complain or run away in fear.  I was pleasantly surprised when he asked to climb up into my arms so he could get a better view.  The battle ended with the action literally 30 feet away, with one Stuart tank blasting his main gun right next to the crowd.  The main lesson he learned was that tanks go "BOOM BOOM BOOM!"  Yep, he’ll be back for more!

Little Armchair General at World War II Weekend at Jefferson Barracks Park 2008

As we go on new and exciting adventures I’ll pop back on and give a little recap of how it went.  As a proud parent of a future military historian I’m very interested in hearing other stories of what you as an enthusiast of history are doing to pass along your love of the hobby with your son or daughter.  I would love to hear of places you’ve gone together, activities which inspire a love of history, and general snippets of how much fun it can be to mix your hobby with your parental education! 

Author Information

Brian King is the Director of Internet Operations for the Weider History Group, which includes overseeing Armchair General’s website.  While this is enough work to keep any sane man busy, Brian finds time each day to hang out with his tank-loving son and incredibly patient wife. 


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1 Comment

  1. I’m pretty certain that the tank is an M5A1 ‘Stuart’ Light Tank. The piece of metal on the right side of the turret ID’s it 🙂