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September 11, 2013

I'm Just Not Ready to Tell My Girls about 9/11

Last September 11th, my girls were 3 ½.  It was a Tuesday.  As we passed the fire station on the way to preschool, the girls asked about the enormous flag that was suspended from one of the ladder trucks – a tradition in our town on this day.

I told them something along the lines of, “This day is the anniversary of a really challenging day for our country.  There were a lot of very brave people, like firefighters, who were very courageous on that day.  So on September 11th, we remember that day, and we honor the heroes who serve our country, like the firefighters.”

That satiated the girls, and they talked about “brave firefighters” for the next few weeks, whenever we passed the fire station.

Over the weekend, Hubby and I watched a documentary on 9/11.  Hubby did some additional reading yesterday, and last night at supper he was telling what he’d read.  He was talking in general terms about “the planes”.

The girls, of course, were curious.  I wasn’t thinking about the conversation we’d had last year, or about the big flag in front of the fire station.  If I’d been on my game, I might have referenced that.

I chose a vague route instead.

Daddy is talking about something that happened in the history of our country.  It’s a big concept, one we’ll talk about more when you are older.

I believe in answering my children’s questions as open and as honestly as possible.  We’ve had lots of discussion on religion.  We’ve had a frank discussion about guns.  And I’ve answered anatomical questions about why boys go potty standing up.

The topic of 9/11 is not one I’m ready to discuss, though.

This morning, completely coincidentally, the girls are pretending to take a trip to New York.  One day – in the not-so-distant future – I will tell them what happened there, and in Washington, and in a field in Pennsylvania, on 9/11/01.  Not today, though.

We’ll make a trip downtown to see the enormous flag.  I’ll reiterate our thankfulness for the bravery of so many who serve our country.  But I’m going to shield their innocence for just a little while longer.


Julia said...

You're such a wise mama, Mandy. :)

Cheryl Lage said...

Beautiful, Mandy. It took us til our two were 10ish before we addressed it...and in truth, I'd have been hesitant then, except for the fact that by then, their classmates were also learning about it.

Focus on the bravery. Focus on the flag. Focus on your family. <3

Jules said...

It's OK. They are still very young. You did the right thing for your family. I think it's great that you are sharing what you can about that day right now and saving the more difficult parts of it for when they can really understand it.

Anonymous said...

love this post. i think you did great. and your girls are so lucky.

and i'm so glad that you have frank discussions of anatomy. you wouldn't believe what i have to teach the 13 year olds that come to my clinic!

and i think i need to pick your brain on religion!! my kids are asking questions and i have such a visceral response given my own personal history that i worry that i can't be as open as i need to be!!!

Natasha Carneiro said...

One day when we have kiddos I will turn to you for some advice on issues in our country, your words to your girls are always so well thought before you tell them.