Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

Assuming that there are some others out there like me, there are certain topics that you just don't feel comfortable with addressing head-on with your children.
As the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks approach, it is starting to feel like an elephant in the room...

The boys have been in the room when the tenth anniversary of September 11th has been mentioned either on television or on the Internet when I open up my browser.

Somehow, know it is something that has to be addressed, discussed, explained, etc. but I do not feel quite comfortable with tackling the topic with the boys.

Big Bro had mentioned that on a channel for kids, there was something about September 11th and he wanted to know what happened.
Honestly, I acted as if I did not hear him, because frankly, I don't quite know what I want to say about that day. Think that he sensed that somehow, I did not want to explore that topic, as instead of him repeating the question, he just moved on and took out a puzzle. I know that it probably is not the best way to handle act as if you don't hear what is being asked, but I really needed to take some time to think and gather my thoughts as to how we are going to explain this topic to the boys...and whether or not we should explain it to both boys now or just to Big Bro, as he is the one who was curious about what happened. Little Bro has not mentioned September 11th at all, even though he was in the room when the topic was very briefly mentioned on one of the kids' television channels...

Part of me wants to share in very general terms what happened...

Then, part of me wants to tell the boys how Mommy and Daddy spent the day together just a few blocks from The Pentagon, sitting with a classroom of children in the dark, and then, part of me just does not yet feel like it is the appropriate time to disclose all that happened on that horrific day.

I can still smell the smoke, hear the sirens, and picture how the day played out for us there so close to The Pentagon.

When tough subjects have had to be addressed (by me), I usually feel better writing out my thoughts and then, handing them to the intended person to read.  Then, we discuss what I have read and our feelings on the topic. Actually think that that is one reason why I enjoy blogging, as it gives me a voice but I can write down my thoughts and feelings.  They don't have to come directly from my mouth. While writing can be raw and packed with emotion, it also can be more controlled, more reflective, more organized. You as the writer can take as much or as little time as you choose to take to edit, delete, re-word, etc.
Almost would like to do that with this topic, namely,  to carefully map out what I would like to share with them and then, just have the boys read my thoughts on the day.

Someone sent me a link to a website called Brain Pop that has a whole animated piece about 9/11.
This video clip tells the story and spares all of the horror and some of the reality of the day.
It is a boy recounting what happened to a sad looking robot.
This clip is not at all blood or shots of total devastation...which is good, in some respects, in that it shares the facts without being too graphic or emotional for a young child.
While this piece explains, it does not really provoke a child to ask more about the might work as part of the explanation of the day, but there needs to be like that this clip starts with a disclaimer at the beginning that it should be something watched with an adult and that it is a sensitive topic...

Then, I think of a former colleague who lost her dear brother on that day and how she is now a parent...
When her little one is old enough, she will have to explain to him how her brother (whom she just adored and admired) died on that fateful day.
Am sure that she will not be having her child get the news by watching a video clip...
She will have to tell him and then, she will have to share photos and stories of their lives together.
Thinking of my colleague from my teaching days back on that day makes me want to share more about how many people's lives were changed and despite the devastation, that life is worth living.
Want to also share that we need to continue to have a sense of strong faith and love for one another after such a tragedy.

Also timely is that in Roman Catholic circles, today (9/8/01) is the Feast Day of the Birth of Mary, considered to be the Blessed Mother of Jesus.
So, for those of you who are either a practicing Catholic family or else possibly if you were raised in a Catholic family, you know and can share with those around you about how Mary was a woman of such strong faith and love. We need to all take lessons from such a strong woman of faith and love.

Regardless of our individual religious preferences, we ALL need to diligently learn to love one another and to work for peace.

We need to remember The Golden Rule and to realize that violence and terrorism are the enemy, not a particular religion.

To finally get rid of this particular elephant in the room, we need to acknowledge it, address it, and model for our children how to be loving, gentle souls despite what the world whips at us at times.

We need to continue to highlight the importance of working towards having a greater understanding for the world and its people. We need to continue to honor the memory of those Americans and Foreign Nationals who lost their lives, as well as to honor the lives of the survivors who made it through the day and the years that followed losing their loved ones in this tragedy.

Will try to do a follow up within the next few days, but after writing this, think that the elephant will be expelled very soon from our home.

UPDATE: We spoke with the boys about 9/11/01 and it went very well.

If you click on the highlighted sections in this blog post, it will take you first to my blog post last year about how September 11th played out for Dear Hubby and me, and my thoughts on the day from the nine year anniversary...

Then, if you click where it mentions Brain Pop in this post, it will take you to the video that gives a run down of what happened. It is a possible way to start to open discussion with your children, although you most likely will want to add to what the video presents so that they reflect on peace instead of the time line.

Please continue to pray for those who lost loved ones on September 11th, or who survived but hold many emotional scars from witnessing first hand what happened on that day. There are some who still struggle day-to-day with this loss.

Please also pray that those in power will actually take into consideration what Dr. Sanjay Gupta shared with respect to there being a connection between 9/11, first responders, and cancer...
If there is any chance that there is a causal relationship between inhaling all of that horrible ash from the day and cancer, please pray that treatments for these particular cancer ridden folks will be considered to be a covered condition. It should not have to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt...these first responders were the heroes of the day, as well as the weeks and months that followed, so if there is even a sliver of a chance that their ailments were due to them being selfless and dedicated, then by all means, give them coverage for cancer treatments.

Also pray that there will be consideration for those still hoping that there will be more of a concerted effort to continue to dig through the fresh kills area near Ground Zero. While I respect that Mayor Bloomberg does not want the area to be known anymore as Ground Zero and wants there to be positive change in that area, people who lost their loved ones still want this to be a place of respect and reverence.

Finally, my blog was criticized a few weeks ago by someone for not being relevant to Montessori,  because I discuss topics on my blog that are not strictly Montessori.

Dr. Maria Montessori was a peacemaker and devoted her life to working with children in a way that was respectful towards them, as well as demonstrative of how to live life in a peaceful, loving  way. Think that if she were alive and shared her thoughts about the events of September 11th, that she would call for a prayer for peace and would want adults to present things in a way about the day that would not scare them, but would get them to think, to reflect, and to honor those who died in the attacks.

I do plan to share with you about the lovely work that the boys have been doing, but sometimes, there are more important life lessons than just showing you shots of what happens to be on our shelves at the moment...hope that you will agree with me on this...


Martianne said...

My children are young and clueless about 9/11, but as they get older, I will teach them about it as I continue to train them up to love others and seek peace.

I still recall exactly where I was on 9/11, how the day unfolded, etc.

Also, my father has been very involved with helping victim families and trying to illuminate some of the wrongs within our own system in order to improve airport security. I will never forget my shock just after learning about what was happening to turn on the tv and find my dad being interviewed. So, began his ten year (plus, really, as he was doing this before 9/11) to improve security.

Just the toher day FOX came to his house for 2 hours to interview him. So, 9/11 is always present in my mind.

On another note, I traveled on Ship for world Youth just after 9/11 and was soooo encouraged by spending weeks at sea with folks of 10 nationalities and all faiths living, discussing and, most importantly, celebrating our mutual humanity, together. I was particularly moved by the friendships that developed between those from Bahrain and the UAE and we Americans. While many back in the States were learning fear of the Middle East and folks from it, I was increasing my understanding and personal connections,. Then, I was able to bring these stories home to share with my students.

Such endeavors are so important, i think, and have affects that are as strong -- even if not as talked about -- as negative experiences and tragedies. Oh, for more every day events that encourage discussion and community. I pray for them!

Honey said...

"We need to remember The Golden Rule and to realize that violence and terrorism are the enemy, not a particular religion."

Beautiful Colleen. Simply beautiful.


Olives and Pickles said...

Lovely colleen.

Bamboo said...

Wow, Colleen, thanks for sharing. My youngest asked this year for the first time and I just told her in a nutshell that it was the day that terrorists attacked our country. That was all she wanted to know, nodded and said okay, and went off to play... only to ask the same thing again the next day. I think she was processing it. The olders are much more aware and the Christian radio station talked a lot about it during the week leading up to the anniversary. I just posted a link to a video about the Boatlift if you'd like to see it:

Blessings, Beth

Tricia said...

The only thing I can contribute to this is Amen. Very well written.

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