**(this was written in the days following September, 11)**
So, we sat all morning long, watching. Wondering. Listening. Another plane into the Pentagon. How could that be? We have friends that work there (and we have found out since that they are fine). The second tower hit collapses. A plane crash in southwestern Pennsylvania. Another blast of fear, seeing as how it happened only miles from where my parents live (they, too, are fine for now. But worried about all the ongoing bomb threats, etc). Then the other tower goes down. One agonizing thing after another. And the whole time, all I could do was imagine what made me bring children into a world like this. Then it came to me. To make the world a better place.
I had to have my husband drive me to get our three-year-old just before lunchtime. Standing in the hallway outside of her classroom, all the other parents who are normally so chatty with one another just seemed to stand around in shock and silence. We noticed a few other Navy parents there, and we all still said nothing. When the children were finally done for the day, the door opened, and they ran to us in their normal excitement. Squeals of joy ran wild as they all tried to tell us what they did that day, showing off a picture that they had painted, and just general happiness to be reunited after a morning apart. It was the same thing every morning. Except this time, we greeted them with giant bear hugs, kisses, and parents trying to hold back tears. It just felt so comforting being able to hold onto my daughter, as if there was still some good left in the world is SHE was still here.
A few hours later, almost the same scene was repeated when the time came to get our five-year-old son off the school bus. Parents were standing around in shock. Some were completely silent, while others discussed the newest developments quietly amongst friends. Once again as the children arrived home, it was the same old routine repeated like any other day, only this time met with hugs and tears in the satisfaction of having them finally home. And once again, the world felt a little better in his arms.
That made it a tough decision for us as parents. Do we shield them from the news, or do we watch it along-side them, explaining things as they ask? We chose the second way. Being a military family, it would have been almost too hard, for us, to NOT watch things unfold. So, the television stayed on, and our children watched with us. They asked their questions, and we answered as honest as possible, keeping it in their age level.
“What happened to that plane?” It flew into that tall building. “Did it go into fire” (meaning did it explode)? Yes, it did. “Why?” Ugh…the dreaded why. Well, we don’t really know why. They think some very sad and angry people got very confused and didn’t know what else to do.
“What happened to those people?” They got hurt when the plane crashed and made the building fall down. “Are those people [firefighters and police] going to help make them better?” Yes! They are there doing what they can, and helping as many people as possible.
“Why can’t we do things the same way as yesterday?” Well, with Daddy being military, they are doing whatever they can to keep us safe; even if that means right now that we don’t park where we normally do, walk where we normally can, etc.
“Will that happen to us here?” (with fear and confusion in their eyes -ouch, that one hurts) Honey, I really don’t think so. But just to be sure, we are going to do whatever it takes to stay safe. That may mean we don’t go out to the stores as often since parking is so strange, but in the end I believe we will all be fine.
The questions have gone on and on, including them wanting to know whom Osama bin Laden is, and can we stay home and not go to NYC (not that we were ever planning on it). I can honestly say that no answer is an easy one. And the worst possible answer that you could ever tell a child is “I don’t know.” At that young of an age, they just don’t grasp what that means. How can Mom or Dad NOT know something? So, if we came to a question that we honestly could not answer, we chose our words carefully. To us, it is saying the same thing. But to a child, it is a good enough explanation.
Luckily, our children haven’t been too interested. They watch with us for a while, then go outside and chase grasshoppers. Blow bubbles. Run with the dog. Effectively, they are being kids. They are playing with the innocence that they still have. After a while, they come back to the couch, watch a little more, ask some more questions, and then go back to their world. How much I wish I could retreat to their world.
While I stay here in the reality of those over the age of ten, I have vowed to not allow these terrorists, these barbarians to take away the innocence of our nation’s children. I will not hide my family from the current events that are taking place, but I will shelter them from being sucked in to thinking that the end is near. This is not an end; this is simply a rough start of a new beginning. As a nation, we have united in a way that I never thought was possible. As a world, countries have pulled together that until now were not even on speaking terms. THIS is what I want my children to see, to witness, to be a part of. They don’t have to view the carnage and the fear. But they will see the love and the pride, and the brotherhood of humanity as it unfurls itself in front of their very eyes. And they will smile.
Submitted By Carrie M. Bolyard