Two years ago, when my son was almost four years old, we were driving to church when my son noticed the flag at half mast. He asked me the question that is the title of this post.
I told him that ten years ago on that day some bad men stole an airplane and killed a lot of people. We fly the flag half way up to remember that lots of people died.
“Who were the people that died?” he responded. “Tell me their names.”
I didn’t have any names for him. I didn’t, in fact, know any of the 3,000 people who died that day. I didn’t even see the television coverage until after I returned home from campus a few hours after the fact. I found out about the towers as I walked in to my economics class at 9 a.m. Mountain Time, just 20 minutes after I’d finished reading the New York Times and heading out for class.
It struck me, though, that his first reaction was to connect with the people who died. He could have said, “Why would bad men do that?” but no, he knows that some people are bad in the world. He just wanted to remember along with me and all the others that put our flag at half mast. I had just told him that we lower the flag to remember. He was remembering through me.
This year, Raisin and I remembered that conversation together. He knows now a little more than he did two years ago. Because he was asking more questions, I decided we’d watch the BrainPop featured movie together. It raised even more questions. He cannot comprehend what a terrorist is, and why or how someone would do what they did.
I’m okay with building little by little each year. It is a tragedy that I’d rather not have to try to explain. But as he grows in understanding of the good that happened that day too, I feel he is reassured in our safety in the world.
Each child approaches tragedy in a different way. How did you approach the subject with your children today? Did you put it off another year? I asked a similar question on my facebook page and got two very different answers. Come join the conversation there or on this blog! I’d love to hear your thoughts.