Children & 9/11

Flip through the pages of the blog and you’ll find multiple posts about my experiences with and on September 11.

You’ll see the posts about how I watched the towers fall on television while my ten month old son built and knock down block towers. You’ll come across the story about one my oldest friends and how a ton of his colleagues died that day.

Depending on what post you read you might come across my story about how I was supposed to be at the Javits Center for a trade show and how if I had gone I would have stayed to meet with clients.

But this year I am not writing or thinking about that because my kids are old enough to have begun asking some very pointed questions. Old enough to try to reason and rationalize why horrible things happen and to ask me what we can do.

What Answers Do I Give Them?

We have had some of these discussions before. We have talked about 9/11 and what happened. We have discussed why Martin Luther King was assassinated and talked at length about the Holocaust.

It makes me sad to think about how horrified they were to hear about gas chambers and to learn just how many times humans have lost our humanity.

They don’t know anyone who died on 9/11 but they know their cousins do. They know their cousins know children who lost parents, grandparents and aunts/uncles.

They know our country was attacked and that it is possible something could happen again.

We don’t live our lives in fear. They don’t wander around wondering if something is going to happen. They know that there is a greater chance of getting hurt by falling off of a bike or out of a tree but they also know sometimes things that are improbable and horrible can happen.

When I heard them talking about what they had learned in school and heard them say mom and dad might not be able to protect them from hijackers part of me wanted to scream.

In part because it is true. In part because after Sandy Hook my son told me not to worry because he sat by the door and figured he could be out the door before he would get shot.

I heard that and wondered what the fuck has happened. When did things turn. When did life get so mixed up and crazy that this kind of thing could be said and not be a joke.

When they ask questions I wonder about what answers to give them.

How Honest Should I Be?

I am certain they really don’t walk around in fear. I am confident they spend the overwhelming majority of their time just being kids but there is a silent scream of frustration that I never voice.

That is because I want them to see dad doesn’t walk around in fear because I don’t. And I want them to feel like my protection wards them from all harm everywhere.

I know this is not true but I need for them to be confident that I will do whatever I can. When my son asks me if I would be willing to kill someone to protect our family I say it is not a question and then I wonder again how we reached such a place.

When these conversations come up about horrible events and my ten year-old says she thinks people are too smart to do these things now I wonder how honest should I be.

How much of her innocence should I take to try and make sure she is protected and how much should I protect to see that she isn’t hurt in a different way.

The world is still filled with magic and mystery. I still believer there is far more good than bad but it is during these moments where we remember those we lost that I find myself wishing that for a little while I could put these kids in a bubble and just let them live without these worries.

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  1. Larry Bernstein September 11, 2014 at 6:55 am

    My wife and I lived in NYC during 9/11. To say it was an intense, scary, sad time would be an understatement. Either way, it’s been said.
    We tend to keep our children away from the news. However, as they get older it is changing. One issue both my children seem to scare easily. I can imagine them saying, I’m fine, I’m fine. Then, they will have trouble sleeping and questions will come out. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, the question is when is the right time to start letting them know more details.

  2. Lori Gosselin September 11, 2014 at 4:53 am

    These are tough things to consider. We can’t protect them but we don’t want them to feel unprotected. i think it’s impressive (and also sad) that you son has an exit strategy. But as you say, how did we get here?

    I remember that day clearly and for some reason I worried most about my son who was twelve at the time. Already he was too aware of what went on in the world and I was afraid of what it would do to him. Later we found a poem he wrote for school in which he said he hated it when this kind of thing happened.

    You do your best. What else can you do? Because our children pick up what we feel, who we are, and not so much what we do.

    That’s not very comforting, is it?

    • The JackB September 12, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      You are right. We do our best because it is all we can do. Can’t live in fear that something might happen because then we aren’t living. We just do what we can to live as best we can and go from there.

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