When the girl came home from school today, she asked, “What is 9/11?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. She said everyone was talking about it at school and she didn’t know what it was. I think I know why; she was just five years old on 9/11/01. I remember explaining to her then, what I thought she’d understand, without making it too frightening for her. We sheltered her from the TV coverage; you probably remember — some of it was quite graphic. And I’m sure we’ve mentioned it on anniversaries since, so I’m not sure where this sudden historical amnesia is coming from.
So I sat her down and explained. I showed her some Internet coverage and some photos. I told her what I remembered about that day, and how sad it was — still is — for the entire country.
And you know what? She didn’t believe me. Not a word. I don’t know who got to her first but she is adamant. “It’s made up. That’s insane. That could never happen,” she said.
I understand, a little bit, where she’s coming from. I didn’t want to believe it then, either. It was all so surreal. And now, for some reason, she’s choosing to protect herself from this knowledge. Maybe she needs to, to feel safe in her world, at least for now.
I started to write this post a few times this evening, feeling like a failure as a parent because my kid thinks the greatest tragedy of our nation is a falsehood. I was going to ask for ideas of how to convince her 9/11 is real; that it really happened. But I’m not sure she’s ready. And I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do.