September 11th: Through a Child’s Eyes

I started tearing up yesterday.  My friend, who had lost his father on September 11, 2001 on Flight 93, had put up a tribute to one of our classmates who had worked in one of the Twin Towers. Today I got up and I felt so upset.  But I have a little boy who is going to turn five tomorrow and who wouldn’t understand why his mommy might “lose it” today.  It seems every channel except Disney and The Cartoon Network is covering the anniversary.  Other than New York, New Jersey lost the most state citizens on 9-11, so we may have more coverage than where you are living.

My son was born September 12th, 2006.  My dad died September 13th, 2003.  On the fifth anniversary of September 11th, I was scheduled to be induced.  I remember being hesitant about the date.  I have to admit, I did not want to have a September 11th baby.  But my induction was scheduled for the evening, and I was just going to be receiving Cervidil, a mild drug to help me get ready for labor.  My Ob/Gyn told me it was very unlikely I would have the baby on September 11th. On that day I was still running around, even going to the baby furniture store because I still didn’t have my changing table.  I got stopped by a policeman for walking down a road that was closed due to construction.

“Can you PLEASE give me a break, I am going to have a baby today!  I have to get to the post office!  One look at my bulging stomach and he let me continue on my walk.

So on the fifth anniversary on September 11th, you could say my mind was on other things.

When Osama Bin Laden died this May, I let Tyler see some of the coverage.  I pulled out my September 11th tribute books.  We told him that Osama Bin Laden was like the worst villain that Spider-Man or Batman could ever face and that he had been killed.  Spider-Man and Batman do not kill the villains, but this man killed more people than any villain ever had.

And then I found out that “the experts” said that with children under six, you should avoid discussing Osama Bin Laden altogether.  Oh, well.

As we looked through my September 11th books with photos of the Twin Towers burning, collapsing, and all of the people covered in ashes, Tyler did not seem scared.  He did not cry.

“I am sad because the people died.”

“Me too, honey, I am sad too.  I am very sad”, I replied, trying to hold back my tears.

“Did all the people love each other?”

“Well…the people who died were mommies and daddies, they had friends and other family.  So yes, when The Bad Man killed all of those people, their families and friends were very, very sad.  They loved the people who died when The Bad Man attacked us.”

“Why couldn’t Spider-Man help?”

“Well…I am sure he did help, I bet he saved an awful lot of people but what This Man did was so bad, he blew up buildings and three planes crashed, Spider-Man couldn’t save them all.”

“Did he see them?”

“Yes, Spider-Man saw them and he saved as many people as he could, honey, it was just too much for him.”

“I want to get my Spider-Man.”

And discussion over, we watched a new episode of The Looney Tunes show.

Tyler never brought up Osama Bin Laden again.  And now…today.  I want to see some coverage, some memorials, but our family has only one television.  I want to cry and mourn, but how can I do that without upsetting Tyler, with his birthday being tomorrow, and us celebrating, believe it or not, my husband’s anniversary of getting his cat, Scotty on September 11, 1995.

Today is a hard day for any parent with young children.  I can’t even imagine the victims’ families explaining it to their children, why they are still crying, ten years later.  And all of them with young children who never knew their grandparents, their aunts, their uncles, their parents’ best friends.

My prayers are with you today, Chris Driscoll, for your father.  My prayers are with the family of Chris Gray, my classmate, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.  Almost 25% of the people who died on September 11th were employees of Cantor Fitzgerald.

My prayers are with every family member or friend who lost someone to the tragedy on September 11, 2001.

The widow of Joe Driscoll, at the Flight 93 Memorial on September 10, 2011.

Shortly after the death of Osama Bin Laden, I interviewed Joe Driscoll’s son, Chris, about his feelings.  It was an article I am very proud of, one of the most important articles I have ever written and it can be read here.


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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.

3 Responses to September 11th: Through a Child’s Eyes

  1. SUPAHMAMA says:

    Amazing, Mama! You handled that very well, I would have had to use superhero’s as well, well maybe. My Husband was a Firefighter/Paramedic for the majority of my son’s young life, so I might have been able to talk about the EMS perspective of it. (My son knows more about EMS than I do at this point, boys and their wheels, smh.) I don’t think anyone who HAS lived through that day can ever forget where they were and what they were doing when they first heard. Take care of yourself today, you’ll got a Birthday Boy to tend to. 🙂
    SUPAHMAMA´s last blog post ..Day 21. Micro.

  2. Dave Z. says:

    I think that you handled your discussion with your son remarkably well. I disagree with the experts that say that you should not discuss Bin Laden with children of that age – children need to know that there are bad people out there in real life, and not just in fantasy.

    My son was 11 when the towers came down. He and my wife had gone to see a Yankees/Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium on the evening of September 10, but the game was rained out, and they wound up in Manhatten waiting for their train to come. They decided that since they had time, they would take the subway downtown and see the World Trade Center. They stood at its base less than 10 hours before the towers fell, and the next day, when he heard about the attacks at school, he was VERY upset about it. Of course, at age 11, we wouldn’t leave him by himself anyway, but for years afterward, well into his late teens, he wouldn’t stay home by himself.

  3. mamasick says:

    Hi Dave, I tend to agree with you. We are the parents of our children and it is up to our own discretion, we know what our children can handle. Since I knew a couple of people who had died that day I did avoid coverage yesterday because I did not want to lose it in front of Tyler, and that is more-so because he sees me in enough pain, he doesn’t need to see me in this kind of emotional pain, you know?

    It sounds like you had a very smart, sensitive little boy in 2001 who was able to grasp how horrific the situation was. Not having children back then I luckily was not forced to deal with the emotions of my son, whom I am sure would have had a similar reaction, particularly if he had just been there.

    Well, it is September 12th. We have made it through, you and I, but for the friends and family of the 9/11 victims, it is never really over for them.

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