When I was a kid, I was taught that the United States was so strong and secure that it could never be attacked. But then I grew up.
I was told that if I were anywhere in the world and had any kind of problem, all I had to do was shout out, "I'm an American citizen!" and everything would be OK. But then I grew up.
I never would have believed that any president in my lifetime could have been involved in a scandal. But then I grew up.
I never would have believed that any president would look directly into a television camera and lie to the American people. But then I grew up.
I was taught that the United States had never lost a war, and never would. But then I grew up.
When I was a kid, the United States seemed to be eternally optimistic, and everybody believed that anything was possible if we Americans just put our minds to it. But then I grew up.
When I was a kid, I learned that other countries would want to be on our side because they shared similar beliefs, not because they'd like to get paid. But then I grew up.
When I was a kid, I thought that every person in the world looked up to the United States. But then I grew up.
When I was a kid, I learned that centuries before, religious wars were fought with both sides declaring, "God is on our side," and that they were "good" and the enemy was "evil." We were taught that these kinds of wars and this kind of rhetoric would not exist in our lifetime. But then I grew up.
When I was a child, there was a relatively new institution called the United Nations. It made us kids feel good, because we were taught that the United Nations would prevent future wars because the world would be governed by international consensus from now on. No country would attack another country just because it could. But then I grew up.
After Vietnam, many members of the government admitted that they had been wrong to characterize war protesters as unpatriotic people whose opinions should be discounted. So I never thought I would hear a president say that the number of war protesters was completely irrelevant to him. But then I grew up.
I never thought I'd hear people give as reasons for war things like "the soldiers over there are getting restless," or "we have to do it before the weather gets too hot." But then I grew up.
I was taught that the United States would always look for ways to preserve peace, and we'd always be the last country to give up on diplomacy. But then I grew up.
When I was a kid, I was taught that the United States believed that the lives of all human beings were incalculably valuable, not just the lives of Americans. But then I grew up.
So, whatever we decide to tell our children at this time, if we're truthful, we can't tell them the same things about America and the world that we were told. And that's sad. Not just the children, but our whole country has had to do a lot of growing up this week.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
By Lloyd Garver