Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Explaining 9/11 to a Six-Year-Old

(Psst--this post is kind of political. Consider yourself warned.)

I had forgotten today was another September 11 anniversary. I knew it was coming up, but I didn't remember until they started talking about it on Morning Joe while Prickly Dad was getting dressed (and almost-six-year-old Bug and I were in my bed, having our morning cuddle).

"Hey honey!" I said facetiously to my husband, "I forgot, it's your favorite day! 9/11!" (It drives him absolutely bonkers when he thinks about how the American Red Cross handled its monetary donations after September 11, 2001, to which he contributed. [Don't ever bring up the Red Cross around Prickly Dad.] We're also still very cynical about all the political pandering and grandstanding that went on in the months and years following the attacks. This clip from Family Guy sums it up perfectly.)

"Why is it Daddy's favorite day?" the little voice next to me asked (note to self: try to keep sarcasm in check around the kids).

"I was just kidding around, honey," I answered. But Bug persisted in asking what 9/11 was. So I began, totally off the cuff: "Twelve years ago, a bunch of bad guys from the other side of the world, from a country called Saudi Arabia, came to America and flew giant jet planes into some buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C. it was a very, very sad day for America because thousands of American people died when the buildings started on fire and fell down."

In the split second before my little guy started asking follow-up questions, I said to myself: hang on. How am I supposed to explain the rest of this? A bunch of Saudi-based terrorists attack us, and we respond by going to war with Iraq and Afghanistan ... but not Pakistan -- even though everybody knew that's where Osama bin Laden was hiding out -- because Pakistan is our "ally"? Huh? How does that make any sense?

Bug and I have talked about 9/11 before. He knows it as the thing that happened that made the United States have to fight our current war, but that's about the extent of his knowledge. I suppose as the boys get older, the yearly 9/11 observance will serve as a launching point for an awesome dinner-table discussion about how the government isn't perfect and certainly doesn't know everything.

Never forget.

1 comment:

  1. It is really hard. I think you summed it up with such poignancy. I agree with everything you said, but can't begin to even think about how I would explain it all to my daughter.