This year, I decided it was time to tell my kids about 9/11. My oldest is 7 and his brother and sister are 6 and 5. In previous years, my husband and I mourned in private, as much as we could. But, they were growing up, and I need to explain the basics so that if they heard someone talking about it, they would understand.
My main dilemma was in how to portray the hijackers. I do not like to say that people are bad, I say they do bad things. I do this with my kids. I have never called them bad kids. I only say what they have done wrong is bad. Because they aren't bad kids. They are very good kids who make mistakes. So, from this philosophy, I explained that the hijackers were people who did not like our way of life and decided that they wanted to hurt us. So they stole four airplanes, and decided to fly them into buildings so they could hurt us. I didn't bring up that they were Muslim, and why should I? These people were not Muslim. They were extremists. It didn't matter what their religion was anymore. They had abandoned it to give over to hate. After explaining this part to them, we turned on the memorial.
The worst part, was that they were replaying the attacks. I felt the unbelievable dread that I felt when I was 22. It felt like a hole was punched into my heart. Looking at my kids, their eyes wide, I was worried it was too much. Then they asked me if this is why they stole the planes. With a heavy heart, I said yes. They said okay and went back to watching the memorial. That's what I love about kids, you wait for them to ask. You don't need to explain anything beyond that. As the times came up for the moments of silence, I had everyone hold hands. The kids seemed to realize that this was very important. I cried a little during the plane hits. When they got to the first tower collapse, I lost my composure. I sobbed while my daughter stroked my arm with her tiny hand. They didn't ask me why. They knew there were people in those towers. That young, and they knew what had happened. Finally, the last moment of silence occurred. After that, I told them they could go play. No more questions, no worry on their faces. No nightmares during that night's slumber. I had told my kids about 9/11, and they took it in stride.
It is weird to think that my children have not lived in a world where 9/11 had never occurred. Terrorism has been a regular word in conversations and on television. That there has always been war in the middle east for them. Mommy has friends whose husbands are overseas and it makes mommy worry. Daddy goes through drills at school for gunmen on campus. I know that most generations will go through something like that. But, it is my fervent wish that will come to an end for the rest of time. In loving memory of all victims of 9/11 and the wars in the middle east and the families, I will never forget.