September 9, 2011

Everywhere I look today, there are posts about where bloggers were and what they were doing ten years ago today. I was in French III, less than two weeks into my senior year of high school, learning reflexive verbs.

I could write about the thoughts and fears I had that day, or how proud I was of our nation for coming together in the days and weeks that followed. Instead, I’ll write about the experience I had Friday night, because right now that’s much more real to me.

I was in the kitchen loading up the dishwasher. Butter was in the living room, watching some show on PBS. I knew the news was going to come on afterward, but I lost track of time. Butter caught sight of footage from September 11, 2001 before I could change the channel. Because he’s so like me in some ways, he immediately asked me what happened.

I was floored, and completely unprepared. I mean, come on. He’s three.

Since September 11, 2008 when Butter was less than two months old, I’ve dreaded the day I had to explain to my kids what happened that day in 2001. Each year since, I wrestled with what to tell them. Obviously, I would tell them where I was, what was said, the tears that were cried in my school. Possibly the irritation I felt toward my teacher when, after the Principal announced that planes had hit the towers and the Pentagon, she said, “Can anyone say terrorism?” and continued on with the lesson as though nothing had happened. Perhaps the feeling that something was up before we were told because so many cars had pulled up to our school, and kids were pulled from class to go home. [I went to high school in Norfolk. Parents were being deployed and students were being pulled out of school to say goodbye, because no one knew when they’d be home.] Or I could express my frustration that we weren’t allowed to watch the news on the TVs that were in every room of the school.

All of that is inconsequential. That’s how I felt. How do I explain to my three year old what happened and why? I totally looked to Facebook and Twitter.

A friend of mine from high school gave me a few links. @MamaofAllTrades gave me a link. I asked my Mom what to say. I distracted Butter from his questions with an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I told M what happened. I thought about what I’d tell him, how I’d explain it to him, as I put him to bed that night. I went to sleep with a heavy heart.

In the end, M was the one who talked to Butter about it. He explained that bad men who thought they were doing something good did a very bad thing and hurt a lot of people. Because he told him this over breakfast, and Butter probably forgot he’d even asked, the kid’s response was, “Okay. May I have more sausage, Pop?” I can only hope he stays so innocent for a little longer.

2 Replies to “September 9, 2011”

  1. I’m dreading this moment. We watched a memorial this morning that showed no footage of the towers falling but I was still waiting for him to ask why people were sad. I like M’s answer.

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