“To have our parents show us video about what happened on September 11th. Okay, mom?”
Edit: I sincerely doubt that the teacher delivered this exact message. I’m sure it was more along the “ask you parents” route and my kid is pre-programmed to request a youtube education.
In a word, no. No way will there be any video watching of 9/11. Joel pried me off the couch and away from CNN somewhere around the end of October 2011, marking the last of my obsessive watching of news coverage. Hyperfocus and national tragedy just don’t get on well together.
I should have looked up more information on how to explain September 11th to children. After last year, I should have been more prepared, should have known better than to think I had just one more year.
Defining terrorist, explaining why they’d want to fly planes into people, describing the resulting change in America without the many layers of my well-nourished cynicism, and revisiting symbolism’s importance in human culture?
See, I normally do an okay job with this– I’m reasonably good at peeling away all the extra adjectives and keeping information at an age-appropriate level. For example, I’ve never mentioned Zoroaster during religious conversations.
But I struggle with this day. Because September 11, 2001 was the “I made it 6 months” after my father’s rather abrupt death (some of you I promised warnings: that’s the make-you-cry-post). I started that day steeped in symbolic grief– and the attacks just made it MORE.
I struggle and I didn’t even know anybody that died. Not a single person, not a single friend-of-a-friend. It feels like the depth of my emotion is transferral. Raw. But not legitimately raw. And because they aren’t raw just because of the attacks, it makes me feel fake to think about it too much.
He asked to see pictures. And I know him– I know if I hadn’t found something for his brain to see, he’d just go find it himself. There are some pictures– you know the ones– that remain as vivid in my memory as the first day. I don’t want him to see those.
He’s 6. His brother is 4. Their history doesn’t include those images.
But it’s symbology, right? The smoke pouring from those two buildings. It’s hate, it’s disgust. It’s religious intolerance. It’s patriotism. It’s human spirit. It’s retaliation. It’s war. It’s the willing sacrifice of personal freedoms.