The Hard Questions: Parents, they're coming.

I never did write Part Two of the New York trip.  It's coming.  Eventually.  If I had written it already, you would have heard about our final destination being a brisk walk past Ground Zero towards the Path station where we would catch the train back to our car that was parked in New Jersey.

Ben is only six years old.  So, doing simple math, you can conclude that he hadn't been born yet during that fateful day in September of 2001. 

As we walked past Ground Zero, I told him a (very) general story of the events on that day.  Some mean men decided to crash a plane into each of the buildings.  It was much worse than anyone ever imagined.  The towers fell.  It was terrible.

I don't think he really got it at that point.  He's 6.  It was freezing outside.  We'd been walking around the city for hours and hours.  And that was fine.  There really wasn't a need to press the issue at that point.

Switching gears a little, with the NYC trip in our memories, we were home again.  I decided to drop by the library and pick up some books for the kids to read on the way home from work.  Before I went, I made a list (alphabetical by author, of course) so that I could pop in, get the books, and leave in a minimal amount of time.  The list included all of the Caldecott Winners in recent history that our library carried.  One of them was The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, the winner in 2004.  We read this book last night at bedtime.  It's the true story of Phillipe Petit, the French street performer who walked a tight-rope between the Twin Towers in 1974.  (It was an awesome book.  I'd highly recommend it!) 

I thought it was timely given our trip to New York, and apparently reading this book was all it took for the magnitude of such magnificent structures being "gone" to sink in with Ben.

As is the case so often at bedtime, Ben started with the questions.  Why did those men crash the planes?  Were there other people on the plane?  How many?  Were there people in the buildings?  How many?  Did they all die?  Are they in heaven?

It's conversations like this that always catch me off guard.  Then *I* start with the internal questions:  How much should I tell him?  What if it scares him?  What if he lies awake thinking about it all night?  How do I put a positive spin on something so terrible?

Against my better judgment (or not), I pulled out the Life magazine publication on September 11th and picked a few of the less graphic pages to share with him; a picture of the city pre-9/11 with the Twin Towers on the skyline, some of the firefighters, an aerial of the city with the unbelievable dust cloud in the aftermath of the collapse.

I answered each of his questions as factually as I could.  I talked about the heroism of the people involved in the rescue.  I told him that it brought the people of this country together afterward, and it helped make us stronger and safer and more aware that there are people who don't like us so we can prevent something like this from happening again.  A lot of people died.  I hope they're in heaven.  If they believed in Jesus, they are.

Apparently, this discussion took a much larger emotional toll on me than him.  In typical male fashion, he was snoring just minutes after I turned his light off.  I guess he put it in the "Topics Already Discussed" compartment and went to sleep.  (I wish I could do that.)

It's just another sobering reminder that he's growing up.  He's asking the harder questions.  He's no longer shield-able from the tough subjects.  It's a reminder that even harder questions are going to follow.  I just pray that I (and we, collectively as parents) can find the answers.


Hawklady said...

wow, tough questions indeed! And 2 blog posts in one day?! You are a blogging machine!

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