And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Milestone in Parenting

Today I passed a new milestone with Katie -- we had "the talk."

No, not the one about where babies come from or how they get there. That probably would have been easier.

This talk was the one in which I implant a generalized but vague global anxiety into my gifted child's head, somewhat akin to the anxiety I felt about a nuclear holocaust almost 20 years ago. This being the 5th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, all the news media in New York have been talking and talking and talking about them, and it occurred to me that they might be brought up at school, too. Since Katie was only 2 when they occurred, she's been pretty sheltered from them, so I thought I'd rather she hear about them from us.

The thing is, I find it amazing how vividly I remember that day. We lived on Long Island at the time, about 50 miles away from NYC. I was driving to my aerobics class that morning, with Katie in the car to be left in the gym's child care room, when I heard on NPR about the first plane hitting the tower. I was more puzzled than anything -- it was a gorgeous, sunny day with a crystal-clear blue sky (I still remember this). Not a cloud to be seen. And if Long Island looked like that, it was likely the City did, too. How could anyone make such a mistake as to run into a building with weather like this?

When I dropped Katie off, I saw that the TV, which was usually showing kids' cartoons, was turned to the news -- and I saw, live, as so many did, the second plane hit the WTC. I watched for a few minutes, kind of stunned, and then, well, I proceeded to take part in the aerobics class. People were giving us updates throughout the class, but there seemed to be nothing to do but go on with our lives.

Afterward, I drove home, and called Dave, who was teaching at a high school in the Hamptons. I think I was on the phone with him when the first building collapsed. It was as if I could feel all the people dying when I watched it, and I sobbed, as I'm sure everyone who saw it did. I left the television on all day, while Katie played on the floor nearby. I was so grateful that she was young enough not to understand what was happening, that I could leave the TV on and not worry about her, that she wouldn't pick up on the vibes, as so many young children did, and crash toy planes into block-tower buildings for days after.

But now I think it's time she knew about it. So I called her into the living room to have a talk before school. I started out by asking her what she knew about terrorists, or September 11, and was surprised that she'd really never registered anything about it. I told her that terrorists were people who believed so strongly in their cause that they were willing to kill other people to get their point across, rather than do it by voting, or explaining, or talking. And I told her about all of the attacks -- the ones on the WTC and the Pentagon, and the retaking of the hijacked plane over Pennsylvania. She listened solemnly, and crawled into my lap. I felt like she got the idea, and understood it was important.

Our little talk concluded, and I asked her if she had any questions. "Nope," she said, and bounced off my lap. "My feet are cold. I'm going upstairs to get some socks!" And she ran off.

Not quite the reaction I expected, but I'm glad I talked with her nonetheless. I hope she never has to have a similar talk with her child.

1 comment(s):

Sad we have to do things like this, but your kids are lucky to have you to do it. Love, T

By Anonymous torey, at 1:14 PM  

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