Every year my husband and I usually end up watching the anniversary coverage of 9/11 in some capacity. The news, specials, documentaries, etc. I think that the events of that day impacted us equally as teenagers. We didn’t know one another then, but we both lived through that devastating moment in our nation’s history. I can close my eyes and still picture that day with such clarity. I can come close to remembering every moment, like a slideshow in my mind. I can channel the intense and fluid emotions I had that day. I have shed many tears over the years for the pain and suffering everyone involved and impacted has and will continue to go through.
This year I am taking great pains to keep the television off. A few weeks ago I was on a run/walk with my boys. The oldest is five and a half, so he is not in the jogger, which is why we take a lot of walking breaks. There was a plane flying low over the forest preserve. It was making that distinct landing sound that planes are wont to make. He said “I think that plane is crashing.” I assured him it was not crashing, it was just getting ready to land.
He followed that up with a statement that shook me to my core. “You know that there were planes that flew into buildings? Like an office building. There were people on them. It’s burned into my memory.” Let me repeat his age, he is 5 & 1/2! I stopped in my tacks and gathered my thoughts as quickly as I could. I decided to be a bit transparent and admitted that was true. That did happen. However, it was a very long time ago and it is not something he needs to worry about now. I lied a bit with that last part. The world is arguably less safe now. We have been in kind of a downward spiral of chaos lately. I wasn’t ready to crush his innocence just yet. I wasn’t ready for him to worry about the kinds of things I take into consideration. He is 5. There is plenty of time for him to have a broken heart over another mass shooting or intentional plane crash, but that time is not this year.
Since that day I have pretty much stopped watching the news around him. Which is odd for me, because I am a news/politics nerd. It wasn’t as difficult as I would have imagined though. That momma bear instinct kicked in and I simply didn’t want to expose him to more frightening events if I could avoid it.
So today, the tv will stay off. Unless they happen to get to watch a cartoon. I will also probably try to shield him seeing any social media I am on. He can’t read 100% yet, but he is starting to read. He has some sight words. And then there are the images, those are not something you can hope that your early reader doesn’t grasp. Because our walk in the forest preserve taught me that my five year old understands some pretty scary and heartbreaking things that have gone on in this world. Today, I will try to keep him oblivious a little bit longer. Today I will try to keep him little for one more year. Today I will try to keep the light in the world aglow for him.