Terror Twice

The Twin Towers fell before I was pregnant that first time. I had no idea at that moment that we'd ever have children and so it never occured to me that some day I might have to explain to a child exactly how real evil could be.

When I was mid-way through my pregnancy someone decided enough time had past to release a documentary on September 11th. The film crew had been there - at ground zero - witnessing the horror and devestation. We never watched it but we did tape it. To this day I've never seen it. I still have the tape though. I wanted it so that one day, when my child was old enough and he was studying September 11, 2002 in history class he could have access to something created when the terror was still fresh in all our minds. But I figured that moment of brutal honesty wasn't coming for a good many years.

Lately Logan is fascinated by the Statue of Liberty. A small tax preparer with an office on a major highway in town has a replica of Lady Liberty out near the road. Everytime we see it Logan says, "Maybe someday I can go see the REAL Statue Liberty and we can walk alllllll the way to the top."

I decided to humor this latest craze by finding him photos of the Statue herself online. Our search was successful and Logan was duly facsinated. We saw close-ups. We saw photos taken from Jersey. We saw pictures taken just below the statue showing off exactly how big she really is. And we saw them - the Towers the way they used to stand in the skyline view you'd take in when you stood peering out the crown windows of the great green Lady.

Logan has heard a lot lately about New York City because Dad has had a lot of trips into the city for work. The two guys took a very short train ride last weekend on NJ Transit to feed Logan's train obession. "This train," Daddy said, "is like the one I take all the way from here to New York City when I go." And so Logan is very much all about NYC of late.

He pointed to the photos of the skyline yesterday and he asked, as I had expected, "What's that?" SO I told him - "That is New York City."

"I want to go see it!" he said. "I want to see the big buildings."

And in that moment I couldn't lie. I couldn't say that this is what he'd see even though it'd be easy. Even though its what I had always seen until one fear-filled late Summer day.

"Well, it won't look exactly like this," I said already thinking I'd have been better off to just not say a thing and knowing what would come next because it always does - Why?

I pointed to the Towers. "Those buildings aren't there any more," I said simply. And he said "Why?"

"Hmm, well they fell down one day and now something new will be built there." I told him.

"A wrecking ball knocked them down?" he said almost as exicted at the prospect that a real wrecking ball had been invovled yet disappointed that he hadn't seen it happen.

"Not exactly Logan," I said and then I pushed through even though I wondered if I should - knowing I wanted to be honest yet protective. "One day some men crashed a plane into the buildings and the buildings fell. They were very bad men." I told him.

"Why did they do that?" he asked.

And I answered him honestly, "I have no idea, honey. I just don't know."


Frisnina said...

I may only be 22, but stuff like that really worries me about having children. I think you handled it very well.

expatmama said...

Hmmm, I'm dreading those kinds of conversations as well. But I guess it's inevitable, and I also think you handled it well.


Perfect explaination Sandy, I had to explain it to my Princess and she understands it that "bad men, crashed the planes, and they killed Kenny, and that's why he's in Heaven because he was helping the people, and that's why Mama is sad" Makes me cry everytime.

Melessa said...

We are approaching the 10th year since the OKC bombing. I know a lot will be made of it in the news and I know I won't be able to hide all of it from Miss Natalie at her age. I'm dreading the discussions we will have, but I have been planning to use words similar to yours.
As you wrote, I can still look at the OKC skyline and show you exactly where the Murrah Bldg. should be. In some ways, I'm more haunted by it now. Like you, I didn't have children when it happened. I do now. What a huge difference that makes.

MoxieGrrrl said...

My daughter was 8 months old that day, and someday I will show her what happened. I have that documentary you described, and one other. I've watched them once, but I am more saving them along with other "memorabilia" to be able to show her what it was really like that day. I think what was most frightening was the feeling of incomprehension (is that a word?). No one could comprehend what they were seeing and hearing, and those documentaries captured that feeling of helplessness and confusion.

There's a local park that, on clear days, you could see the towers. After 9/11, someone laminated a personal photo of the towers from that spot and nailed it to the nearest tree. Last time I went up there it was still there.