A lot of us were child-free or were cuddling our babies when those planes hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and crashed into a Pennsylvania field. Heck, I hadn't even met the father of my children on that fateful day, as we both experienced it from two different vantage points in New York City.
Those who had school-age children nine years ago had to struggle with the immediacy of the terrorist act and were forced to explain it to their curious, scared children on the fly. The rest of us are trying to figure it out as our little ones begin to notice the world around them and wonder what's going on when mom and dad stop, remember, and shed some tears on the anniversary of September 11th.
I really don't need to bring it up to my 4-and-a-half-year-old yet. A thought that was echoed by Janice P. Nimura over at The Faster Times when she writes on talking to kids about 9/11.
It’s like discussing sex: every family has their own approach, their own baggage, their own bias. Introducing the subject too early is unnecessary. Not talking about it is cowardly. Going into too much detail is frightening. Oversimplifying robs the event of meaning, and insults our children’s intelligence.
Keeping this approach in mind (which I think can be followed regarding many difficult topics), I doubt my daughter will be confronted with as much imagery of September 11th this year as we spend our first anniversary of the attack somewhere other than New York City. If she does, I'll offer up a simple, "Some bad people wanted to hurt us, and they did. But now we do things to help prevent these bad things from ever happening again."
I know this isn't wholly accurate, but grade-school age is way too young to do anything other than reassure your child that they are safe. "Bad" people are a big topic in our house. Maxim is "bad" at school because he doesn't listen to the teacher. "Bad" people hit their little brother or sister.
As she grows, I can speak to her about religious fundamentalism, and the dangers of fanaticism. I can talk of war and that old adage "Bad things happen to good people" as she grapples with friends and family getting ill or dying. Still, I will constantly remind her that she is safe. It won't be until she's reached the later teen years, and is most likely smarter than I am, that I can talk about my own experiences on that day, and her father's.
This year, it's a Saturday and we'll most likely head to a park, play in the backyard, maybe get a special treat. Quite frankly, it's what I would prefer to do on the anniversary of 9/11 as well.
What do you tell your children about the September 11th attacks?
Image via Blatantnews.com/Flickr