|Teaching our children to honor September 11, 2001|
On September 9th my 8th grader came home from the first day of school with an assignment: Ask your parents where they were on the day of September 11, 2001, and how did that day affect our country? For these past 2 years in middle school she has been reading novels with increasingly tougher subjects. Some of the subjects caused her some anxiety and concern. Now that she has become exposed to some of these subjects, as an 8th grader, it’s time that some really tough subjects are discussed at home. This is something we, as her parents, have tried to shield her from, because, knowing our child, we didn’t feel she could digest the subjects.
The answer to her assigned question began with my husband. He told her he was at home with her (she was 1 year old at the time). He spoke of viewing the towers on television when the second plane hit. He explained terrorism, hijacking and heroism. He spoke of the heightened airport security, as this was at a time where he, personally, was air traveling quite a bit for work. He showed her a video of the towers at the time of collapse. What he was not prepared for was her reaction of nonchalance. My husband’s reaction was disappointment, frustration, and he decided to walk away from her in disbelief of her lack of understanding. His reaction smacked her right in the heart as she began to well up with tears. At that point she knew he was upset with her reaction, and that the day of September 11th was a painful day to recollect.
From this moment I began to speak of the impact tragedy has on people. I spoke of people who lost their love ones, of children that would never see their parents again. I spoke of stories I heard from friends who personally knew others who lost a friend or relative. I even told her that one of her best friends had a relative who died on one of the hijacked planes. Of course, she was surprised to hear that she knew someone who was personally affected. I told her of my personal fear, as a mother of a 1 year old child, and the feeling that war would come to Los Angeles. I told her that our lives are not to be taken for granted and we should be grateful every day.
Though we are on the entire opposite end of the country, this event effected every one of us in a most profound and deeply, hurtful way. I spoke that, as we are in the proximity of Hollywood, the capital of make believe, it’s easy to see something on film and think the violence is something that isn’t real, isn’t true. By watching it on YouTube, on a screen, it doesn’t appear to be something real. However, this was very real; this hurt the nation to the core. I then brought it out globally, speaking of, how the world currently has children who fear for their lives every day from war, hunger and diseases.
I know my daughter, I know she is a child who is sensitive, and I know her empathy can sometimes cause her anxious pain. As a sister, with a special needs little brother, her empathy is cellular. So, it was not a surprise that she was in tears while I was explaining the events of September 11, 2001. Of course I know it was a mixture of personal hurt, from her dad’s reaction, and the deep, painful understanding upon discussing such a tragic day. Shielding her from discussing these subjects is no longer an option, nurturing her continued growth into an understanding of honor is of utmost importance.
Her school has asked the students to wear patriotic colors to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Now, when she wears these colors, she will understand the hurt of a country, and what it means to honor another.