As I was driving my son home from preschool on September 11 last year, he said, “Mom, want to know something really sad?”
Of course I did.
“There were these two planes, and they crashed into twin towers. One plane hit each tower.”
I’m glad I wasn’t looking at him, because I’m sure there was an expression of shock on my face.
Turns out another 4 year old boy told him about 9/11 in preschool.
I knew that he’d learn about 9/11 eventually, but I really thought that could wait until he was older. Much older than 4.
After thetragedy, I remember I thought to myself, how am I going to talk to my daughter about this? She was 6 at the time. The same age as many of the victims.
But then, I decided I liked that my daughter believed that the world was good. I like that she has fantasies about mermaids and fairies, and still believes inand the . I felt that telling her about such a horrific incident would just shatter her childhood innocence. I decided that the statistical likelihood of a incident happening at her school was so small that I’d take the risk that I hadn’t prepared my daughter with what to do if a crazed gunman came into her school.
Just as I didn’t talk to either of my kids about, I also haven’t talked to them about 9/11 or any of the other mass shootings or terrorism in our country. I was a bit shocked that a parent at my son’s preschool did choose to tell their 4 year old about 9/11.
After my son told me that “sad story”, I nodded and said, “huh”, purposely not giving it any more reaction than I would one of his tall tales. One daytalk to both of my children about 9/11, and tell them how it impacted me and how scary it was. But for now, I want my son to think that story about the planes hitting buildings was just another story that a 4 year old made up.
I quickly asked him what letters and numbers he learned at school and steered the conversation a different way.
On this thirteenth anniversary of September 11, I had tears filling my eyes on my way to work as I listened to the tribute on NPR where survivors talked about the loved ones they lost. I think about the mothers that were pregnant that day and lost their husbands, and how those children are now teenagers. The world keeps moving, but we will never forget.
As for my own children, this is yet another year where I choose not to tell them about this tragedy. Here’s to childhood innocence. May we preserve it as long as we can.