Exposing my kids to 9/11

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 6.38.46 PMWithin the walls of our house, the wife and I have—for the most part—avoided talking with our children about the details of September 11, 2001.

My daughter is 10. My son is 6. And while they have certainly heard about the World Trade Center and terrorism and tragedy, they haven’t been exposed to the awful, nightmarish, disturbing, disgusting reality behind the moments of silence and tributes and such. Are we right in protecting them? I tend to think so—there will be plenty of time for Casey and Emmett to realize the world is, often, an awful place. Why rush things?

Today, however, I took my children to the city and, after piddling around (Jackson Hole, Grand Central, Union Square) we visited the 9/11 Memorial.

I didn’t know what to expect. From them. From me. At the time of 9/11, the wife and I loved on 15th and Third, not far from the Twin Towers. In the days and weeks afterward, we smelled the rubble, read the flyers, lived the nightmare, volunteered to help. It was awful beyond awful beyond awful; the worst span of my life, times 100,000,000. Although 9/11 enters my head fairly often, I usually try and push it out. Just too … too … yeah. Just too.

I digress. My kids and I entered the memorial. We looked over some pictures, checked out the fountains. I explained—in simple terms—what had happened; what I’d seen and experienced. They walked around, felt the metal railings, soaked in a few of the sights. “I’m hungry,” my son said. “Can we get something to eat?”

With that, we left.

It was a start.

1 thought on “Exposing my kids to 9/11”

  1. My 3 yo daughter hit her chin and required stitches on the day of the Boston Marathon, so we were ‘stuck’ in the ER with the TV going with repeated images and video of what happened. My then 6 yo son was mesmerized by what happened. While I was tending to my daughter, he watched, and eventually said, “Woah, cool- that building exploded.” I quickly stopped him- no, it wasn’t cool, and lots of people got very, very hurt from it. He took it all in, nodded his head, and sat quietly for a couple beats, and said, “Do you think we can watch Ben 10 on these tv’s?”

    Same type of thing happened from the school shooting at Sandy Hook. He didn’t say anything about it, didn’t ask about it, and finally asked him “Have you heard about a shooting at a school that hurt a lot of kids?” “Nope,” and he ran out of the room.

    In both cases, I fully expect that when he is older, there will be lots of questions about these as well as 9/11. I guess for the time being I’m just glad he hasn’t really had to deal with that sort of thing and hope he never has to…

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