Yesterday I Had The Talk® With My Kid

When I walk home from school with my child we generally improvise our route. Sometimes we go around one of the three lakes, sometimes we don't. We generally let the day, the moment, the wind dictate our pathways. Heck, I let her pick the route most days.

Yesterday we happened across this tiny pocket park called "Inspiration Park."

Oh boy.

As a result of our route, speaking of improvisation, I had to have The Talk® with my child. And when I say The Talk® I ain't talking about sex or drugs or crime or race or any of that nonsense. I'm talking about the 9/11® talk. Jesus H. Christ®! The round the terrorists won! And special shout-out and thanks to the City of Gaithersburg Parks & Field Department. Thanks a lot, guys! Inspiration Park, indeed.

If you read no further in this post, just know this: You think 9/11® was difficult eight years ago? You think it was crazy and incomprehensible? You think it was emotional to watch that horror on the TeeVee? Well, try to explain that shit to your 7.5 year-old who cannot be bullshitted. The terrorists attack of September 11, 2001 was some crazy fucked-up shit, right? Try explaining that crazy fucked-up shit, the whole thing, aloud sans preparation, to someone who has zero knowledge of the event. Try it. I'll wait.


Well? How'd that go for you?

I was just trying to walk home from school. We weren't even going to do homework. We were going to carve pumpkins for Halloween! Imagine the shift in tone when my kid read the Inspiration Park plaque in its entirety--not that I'd shield her from that sort of thing, I was just caught off guard (like the entire USA on 09.11.01)--when my girl asked, "What happened on September 11, 2001? A lot of people died? What happened, daddy?"

Oh boy.

But you know what? As a parent, you can never shy away from tough topics. At least I don't. I jumped right in and I'm certain I did just fine but that conversation must have triggered another TGA because I remember very little of it. I am guessing that my side probably went something like this:
Ty/dad: "Uh, well, er...some uh, people from another part of the world, ya' know? Was, uh, mad at America for our foreign uh policies and uh, he-he, and, uh...they made some pilots of some airplanes stop flying their airplanes--you know, sorta like switched seats and stuff--and those guys flew the planes into, well, these, uh, really tall buildings in New York called the World Trade towers, and about 3,000 people died, and, uh, you want some ice cream for dinner, sweetie?"
There were tons of follow-up questions that I cannot remember answering. I do remember that she deduced that, "That behavior is definitely against the law. Did those guys go to jail?"
Ty/dad: "Jail?! Not really. But you're right, that was really, um, bad behavi--they didn't go to jail because they the crash..also. Uh. There's a concept called martyr...but that's not important. They kind of felt so mad at America that they thought, errrrrr, they...they wanted to -- so should we carve one pumpkin or two? The guys who, um, flew the planes felt that a squirrel--on the tree?"
I was surprised that she said, "good" that the guys died as a result of their behavior. That was kind of the eye-for-an-eye surprise of the day.

I also remember that later that night my friend, Benjamin, suggested that maybe I could have started with Pearl Harbor. He was helping me decompress this. He said, "It's history, start with Pearl Harbor." Pearl Harbor? What? Seriously? I hadn't thought about that. That would have just as smooth:
Ty/dad: "Er, well, the Japanese people were, uh, yeah...mad at America...and Hitler. Have you guys talked about Hitler yet? It was like the early 1940s and we had a big war called World War II and Hitler was this guy who...oh wait! Anyway, in Hawaii...the Japanese want hot dogs tonight? So the Japanese people flew their planes, ya' know? into all our Navy ships in Hawaii. How 'bout a puppy?!"
I never felt so much like the "non-judgmental" PC let-them-form-their-own-opinions hippie dad from Santa Cruz in my life. I'm the guy who goes, "Santa?! That's a story to get you to spend all your money." But here I'm all hemming and hawing over terrorism.

Later that night after tuck-in, I get the call, "Daaaady! Can you come up here for a minute?" Oh boy. Guess what she says? She says, "I'm kind of thinking about what we talked about earlier today...and I'm a little scared." Here's what I remember saying:
Ty/dad: "Sweetie. You have nothing to worry about. Everything is okay. I wouldn't let anything happen to you. I promise. That thing happened way before you were even born and nothing like that has happened since. Now go to sleep. Everything is fine. I love you. Goodnight."