Every parent and grandparent in our generation recalls exactly where they were the morning of 9/11, eleven years ago today. I woke up that morning in Durango, three months pregnant with my first daughter. I was super groggy as my dog had spent the night barking at an elk right outside my window. My husband was out of town on a business trip, and as I woke up and flipped on the news I saw the same shocking images that you saw, the ones that we’ll never forget.
One of the first things I did was call my parents in Northern New Jersey and ask them if they’d seen the New York skyline. Because from the town where I grew up in Northern NJ, you could see the whole skyline. My dad, always the eloquent college professor and not one to swear much, turned on his television and then uttered a long jumbled list of expletives. My mom, an elementary school teacher in a district 20 minutes from Manhattan, was about to go into lockdown and handle some of the hardest things she saw in her career, with several of the kids at her school losing parents. After we got off the phone, I felt so horribly scared as I sat and wondered about what sort of future was in store for my unborn child.
A few days later, my husband returned from his business trip and I was lucky enough to be able to account for all of my loved ones back east. But of course, that wasn’t the case for so many others.
Over the years I have wondered how I would someday explain it all to our children. I tried last year for the first time. I wanted to educate them yet protect them and in this case, there is really no middle ground, no gentle soft side of the story. I did a poor job and only gave a vague explanation in my efforts to not scare them.
But I am going to keep trying. If you’re like me and you’re not quite sure how to explain it to your kids, then maybe this document from 911memorial.org will help you as much as it helped me. It offers some great resources and tips like, answer questions about the attacks with facts, be specific, avoid the stereotypes and instead focus on the thousands of individual stories. Also, know your kids and know how much or how little to say. Some kids may be able to handle more details and graphic images than other kids. Another good one – talk about what the heroes did that day. Emphasize hope and how their own compassion can prevent future acts of intolerance and violence. Yes, of course.
After you’re done talking, here is a great activity to do with your kids. Check out 911day.org and join the 9/11 Day Movement by pledging to do one good deed. It is all of those good deeds that will unite us.
Honor. Remember. Unite.
SJPmama is the schemer, founder, and the editor at San Juan Parent. She created San Juan Parent because she wanted to find fun activities for families in the San Juan Mountain Region that would tire her kids out and make them go to bed at a decent hour. She has been banging away on computers for longer than she can remember and freelances at various tech jobs. She considers herself extremely lucky to have such awesome friends and family who are willing to let SJP feature their stories on the interwebs.