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.