Thursday, September 11, 2008

Old Enough

Any kid who turns seven-years-old today--or any kid younger than seven--was born into a post-9/11 world.

In fact, I think any kid who will turn seven between today and nine months from today belongs to a special group of 9/11 babies.

There is a whole subset of women out there who were pregnant on that day. The women who were pregnant and lost husbands and lovers on that day will always belong to a group of amazing women who have a special place in the heart of America. But there are American women everywhere who bore babies into a world they hadn't thought they would have to.

I'm one of those women. I was almost seven months pregnant on September 11, 2001. My son was born in December.

Those 9/11 babies are starting first grade now.

Those 9/11 babies are old enough to ask questions.

Those 9/11 babies are old enough to realize that something is...different.

One day this summer I took the kids to a little New York-style pizza place near our house. They have a huge mural on one wall of a pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline.

My son who is fascinated by all things New York-related was naming the buildings. But he didn't know what those two tall, "twin" buildings were.

My daughter, oh-so-sophisticated and educated on the matter, told him that they were the Twin Towers that were knocked down by terrorists. And he started to ask questions.

So I sat there in a little dive pizza place and told my son all about it.

I told him how much had changed in the world. I told him how many people died, how many kids lost parents. He was taking it in and I was doing okay, until I told him about how it had effected us.

I told him that this was why his father has had to go away so much. I told him that this was why Daddy was gone for most of his baby years.

I couldn't help tearing up. Those were the hardest words I had ever had to say. Kids born into the post 9/11 world, especially those born those few months right after, especially New York kids, and especially military kids, are different.

Maybe they are better than they would have been. Maybe they are worse. But they are different.

And now they are old enough to understand, to learn about it in school.

Every year on this day I have one prevailing thought. We were so lucky. Lucky that my husband was here for his son's birth. Lucky that my husband wasn't at the Pentagon that day. Lucky that the chain reaction of political events that eventually sent my husband to Baghdad did not kill him.

Most of all, lucky to have our post-9/11 and our pre-9/11 children in our lives. And lucky that they feel secure enough to talk to us about it.

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