Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Avoiding Patriot Day 2012

September 11th will always be a horribly sad day for me.  My dad worked at the World Trade Center just months before the attacks and on this day in 2001, I couldn't for the life of me remember if he still worked there. I couldn't get a hold of him. All lines were down. Where was he? All I knew was that he was in the city. Would I ever hear from him again? Hours and hours past with too many questions and emotions to bear. Later that night we connected on the phone. He told me how he made it out of Manhattan on foot through smoke and over bridges while chaos and fear surrounded him as densely as the thousands of people trying to escape for their lives along with him.

I can't even look at the lower Manhattan skyline nor the 9/11 Memorial without tearing up. Those are tame compared to images of smoking towers, people running, rescue attempts at ground zero and everything else that just gets more graphic from there. Forget about video footage of that day. It's too much.

Honestly, for 11 years I've actively avoided most news coverage about the attacks because I just can't wrap my head around idea of how such an event could happen, and the media's spin on it makes it worse. Being from New Jersey, I have friends and family too closely connected to those events. I respect  and appreciate hearing and reading their personal stories, remembering both tragedy and heroism. It's not like I don't think Patriot Day is important, I just want to remember the day quietly and through loved ones with true ties to that event.

As a homeschooling parent, I've also decided to postpone covering this topic for a while. There is enough other history and social studies out there for my kids to learn, and we already have to discuss tragedies such as war and slavery at a most basic level just to understand other things. It is difficult to learn about innovation without also discussing war, because they are all too often so interconnected. And I refuse to teach about American history without also teaching African American history, and emphasizing that the current injustices today have roots in American slavery. So Bean knows what war and slavery are in general, but I've spared him the details of rape, lynching, brutal violence and the unnecessary loss of innocent lives that tend to go along with those atrocities. 

I just can't think of a way of explaining 9/11 at a basic level to young, optimistic and sensitive children. There is nothing in their world to remotely compare it to that would help them make any sense of it. Then there is the question, of "Why?" I don't think I can begin to touch on that. It goes deeper than the greed, power struggles and selfish desires that they understand even in their own lives and I can use to help explain why war and slavery exist. Books won't help. I really don't want my kids seeing those images from that day that I still have visceral reactions to. Video documentaries would just haunt their thoughts, as both boys are highly sensitive to visual media. This topic is just too intense to just touch on without opening a can of worms that I'm sure would leave my kids questioning humanity.

So for now, a remembrance of 9/11 by our family is on the back burner. With the kids not in school and us not big TV watchers, today is a typical happy and simple day like any other for the Eaglets. With cooler weather, we anticipate the coming of fall and the special blessings that has to offer. Today we enjoyed extra snuggles under warm blankets in the morning and we made our first batch of squash soup of the season. 
Bean shaves nutmeg for our first squash soup of the season
There is a slight guilt I feel for not even mentioning that today is Patriot Day to the kids. Greater is the relief that I have control over what they are exposed to at this young age. They only have a short time to be kids and not have to worry about such things. There will come a time when it would be ignorant of them not to know what happened on this day eleven years ago. I just hope that I can be a good judge of when will be a good time to discuss it and that I have the words to help them understand this most tragic of days. 

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