Question: What did you tell your children about 9-11? Answer: I answer my children with the truth, always. Sometimes, though, I am glad when they don't ask... In this case, I heard the news at the filling station, while trying to put enough pressure into the two flat front tires (which I discovered when I got to the Wanda-Wagon this morning) to allow me to limp to the tire-shop without damaging the rim. The station attendant came and told me the news. Since Wanda is a rag-top the children heard what he was saying, though his agitation and heavy accent garbled the message somewhat. So they asked me to explain what he had said. I was still trying to make sense of it myself -- I told them that two air-liners had crashed, which is what I thought he had said. The girls are aviation buffs, after their father; they realized the seriousness of that. (I never dreamed I'd be wishing that was *all* it had been.) When Dean picked us all up at the tire shop, he had the radio on, so they heard the news as we did. We kept turning it off for a minute to re-state it for the children and allow them to ask questions, which we answered as simply and factually as we could. I wept through a couple of the answers, apart from which I tried to stay matter-of-fact. I several times used the words "I don't know why. It was wrong and evil." They talked about it a little in school; the school like us believes in giving children facts and letting them explore together the meaning and implications of those facts. Rachel's class, the grade two/threes, came to a consensus that the people who did it had done very wrong, but that they were dead, too. When I picked her up from school, she seemed comfortable with that. She recognised that I was still sad and worried, and hugged me protectively. Anne's class (grade four/five) seems mostly to have skirted the matter of motivation. She seemed less comfortable with it. She didn't talk about it, but at dinner she made a rude and challenging comment to something DH said about the event (he had been talking about the emergency response teams). I explained to her that the people he had been talking about had gone into the building to save others, and had been killed, willfully giving their lives to save others -- and that many of them were parents who would not come home. She got somber, and didn't say anything else. I think it may take her a long time to process this; maybe I came down too hard on her. Navigating through Anne's obsessiveness and hyper-restraint, without under-challenging her or letting her armour herself with flippancy, may be the biggest challenge of my parenting.
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