Monday, August 09, 2010

How do you explain horror, hate and heroism to a six-year-old?

"What's that?" Spencer asked as he looked at the television screen across the restaurant.

I looked up and said, "The day the World Trade towers fell."  I knew as I said it what the next question would be.

"What?"

He wasn't even born on 9/11. He never knew the horror that held our country in its grip while time seemed to stand still.  I wish he never had to know. I wish he could grow up in a world of puppy dogs, lollipops and rainbows and never know that there is evil in the world. But, he can't.

I also promised myself a long time ago that I would never knowingly lie to one of my children. Although, I may try to skim over some of the more horrifying details that I don't think they're mature enough to grasp.

So, I began. Here's the version for a six-and-a-half-year-old that I told and he elicited through his questions:
There was a day before he was born that some very bad men flew some airplanes into some of the tallest buildings in New York. They did it because they hated America and wanted to attack us. Lots of people died. Thousands. Not very many kids.
But, there were also a lot of wonderful stories about God helping people to get out of the buildings; and people who should have been in the buildings or on the airplanes that day, but weren't.
The bad people took two other planes that day, too. They flew one into a building in Washington D.C. called the Pentagon.
The fourth plane (and this is where I had to take a lot of deep breaths and tell myself to say it, not think about it) was running later than the others. So, the people on board found out what was happening. They worked together as a team to stop the bad guys. It was just a bunch of normal people, like Daddy, but they kept the bad guys from flying the plane into the White House. The bad guys died. The good guys died, too. While they were fighting the bad guys, the plane crashed. But, it crashed in a field with no people around. The good guys died heroes. They saved a lot of other people from getting hurt.
He never asked why I had tears in my eyes or why my voice sounded funny. Although, I know he noticed. He had that look in his eyes that makes me suspect he was born with wisdom beyond his years.

Then he asked if he could get more root beer. I sent him off and took a deep breath.

We should never forget.  That conversation proved to me that I will never be able to forget.

5 comments:

Funny Farm Matriarch said...

It makes me so sad that we have to explain things like this to our kids...

Ali said...

so sad...

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

well done. today I explained adoption and cried like a baby. my kids laughed. nice.

Ali said...

yeah. sometimes i think all these conversations are A LOT harder on us than they are on them. resilient little buggers.

Mixtape Jones said...

Great job, Ali.

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