I thought I had escaped explaining. She wasn’t even born yet when it happened. But I forgot that something like that never goes away. My daughter finally asked me a question I had been dreading: “Mommy, what happened on Sept 11, 2001?”
How do you begin to answer that? Especially to a child who, once she gets something in her mind, she picks and picks and picks at it from every angle. How much information is too much? How much is enough to satisfy her curiosity but not scare the bejesus out of her? Because I’ll be honest, it still scares the bejesus out of me.
I sat her down and explained as much as I could about that day. She told me that her teacher talked about it at school. In a way, I’m glad it was the teacher and not the other kids. She had a lot of “why” questions that I just couldn’t answer, like why did the bad guys want to crash the planes and kill people? (If you can think of a good enough explanation for that, let me know.) I told her how sad and scary it was and that it was ok if she felt scared too. I told her that it was something that probably wouldn’t happen again. Was I lying to her? I don’t know. Through it all, I just wanted her to feel safe.
As we talked, I couldn’t help but feel like I had chipped away at her innocence just a bit. This was our first intrusion by the horrors of the real world. I’m not so naïve as to think that she’ll never experience tragedy or learn about our imperfect world. I just didn’t want it to happen when she was 6 years old. It made me feel helpless because I couldn’t shelter her. Now that conversation is behind us, I feel like I need to fill the space with more talk about love. Think about it. How often do you sit your child down, look them in the eyes and talk to them about kindness and love? Not just, “I love you” but what it means to be nice and thoughtful and grateful for each other.
A couple of our writers have written recently about living in the now and appreciating the moments you have in front of you. I think that is the remedy for what ails us in this mixed-up, crazy world. I believe in the power of intention. I believe in living each day with the appreciation for the gifts in front of you. I believe in grabbing on to those that you love and holding on to them just a little longer than normal—and actually making that the norm. I believe in making sure that our daughter knows she is loved. I believe in making room in our lives for laughter and love above all the other distractions. These beliefs of mine, they shouldn’t be a secret.
The world needs less talk about action and more action. I think Kid President said it best when he said “You’re made from love, to be loved, to spread love. Love is always louder, no matter what. Even if hate has a bull horn. Love is loud, so let your life be loud.” I think that’s a very good idea.