image from freefoto.com
Eight years ago today Jed and I were newlyweds living in an apartment in California when our phone woke us up early that morning. It was my mom, she told me about the planes and the buildings and I hung up. Jed and I turned on the TV and watched the news for the next several hours, days, weeks, months.
At the time we had no children. I remember hearing news reports about how to talk to your children about what had happened. I didn't pay attention.
Eight years later I have three kids, among them a seven year old and a five year old. We don't live in New York City. We've never been to New York City. Yet what happened on September 11th has come up a number of times in our home. Mainly it comes up while looking at skyscraper books and firefighter books that Buddy has checked out from the library. Or it comes up explaining why flags are flying on the top of work cranes at construction sites, or on freeway overpasses. I'm glad that what brings up September 11 isn't more reasons to be afraid, but because America is still remembering, still flying flags, still being patriotic.
But I'm still wondering how to really explain September 11th to my kids. The gist of what we've told the kids is that some airplanes crashed into two really tall buildings in New York and the buildings fell down and a lot of people died. We haven't told them the airplanes flew into the buildings on purpose. Or that it was terrorists. They just know that it somehow happened and that it's very sad and we need to remember those people who died. For those of you who have older kids, what have you told your children? When are they old enough to know it all?
I came across this at Scholastic.com. And this article was helpful saying that as a parent, you should wait for your kids to ask questions, and then ask them questions too so you know what their current understanding of it all is. And this article really helped me see how I could put it into kid terms without making them afraid. And that's what I want. I want my kids to understand what an enormous thing this was. How sad it was. How it brought our country together. But I don't want them to be afraid. At all.