I’m sitting at my desk, trying to be productive, while thinking of that terrible day five years ago. Part of me wants to be at home watching all of the coverage, the memorials, the videos, etc. And the other part of me wants to stay away from it. It’s so hard to watch. When I see those planes heading for the towers, I hear myself screaming inside my head for the planes to go off their terrible course… begging history to be changed.
I remember being glued to the TV when it was all happening. So was my boy; he was three years old. You just don’t realize how much they can pick up…
A couple of days later I told my husband to make sure the TV was not on any news channel at home. My son started building tall skyscrapers out of blocks and using airplanes to crash into them. He asked a lot of questions about what was happening to the people in those planes and the buildings and it was really difficult to find the right words to answer him. How do you explain terrorism to a three-year-old?
Even after making sure he didn’t watch anymore of the coverage, it was already in his head. He replayed what he had seen in his “playtime” with blocks and crayons and toy airplanes. He asked us questions about it probably every day for at least 6 or 8 months. I told him that it was a very sad day, that bad people had made those planes crash and that many people were hurt.
Gradually, the daily questions about 9/11 went away. We’d see snippets of it on the news or other channels and before we could change the channel, he’d point and exclaim “there they are! That’s the World Trade Center!” I would quickly change the channel or change the subject.
Now at 8 years old he can be a bit neurotic at times. I thought it was one of his little “quirks” – like being afraid of leaves (which took about a year to get over) or being obsessed with meerkats… but I wonder..could some of this have anything to do with 9/11?
When he gets tucked into bed each night he says the same phrase every time… and it doesn’t make any sense to anyone but him. It’s a ritual that makes him feel better – obviously a control thing.
A couple of months ago he started to ask me if anything was going to happen to him while he slept. He asks me to promise him that nothing is going to happen to him. Should I promise him? I feel like I shouldn’t… I mean, I can’t make any guarantees about anything, right? Plus – not that I’m superstitious or anything – but I feel like if I promise him that nothing will happen, I’m just jinxing it. (hey – I’m not ruling out that his nerosis isn’t genetic. ahem.)
Maybe I could have promised him that – before September 2001. On the other hand, should a child believe, at least for a while, that their parents can control more than they truly can? That their parents CAN keep them safe and can guarantee it?
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here. I guess my mood today is one of rememberance… for the families who lost loved ones… for our country… and for children everywhere who just want to go to bed knowing that everything will be okay until they wake up… and for the parents who wish they could make that kind of promise.