Look mommy! It’s a picture of Minneapolis! he said, as he looked at a periodical on the coffee table.
No, actually that’s a different city. It’s New York, I said.
No Mommy, it’s MINNEAPOLIS! See? See those tall buildings? That’s Minneapolis.
You’re right, Minneapolis does have tall buildings. But New York City has lots more tall buildings. This is a picture of New York City.
I could have left it at that. I was *thisclose* to leaving it at that. But I couldn’t; something compelled me to say more. I pointed to the two tall buildings in the middle of the picture, the two that were artistically faded out. And I told him. I told him that a long time ago, way before he was born, some crazy bad guys flew airplanes into those buildings. I told him there was a big fire, and lots of brave firemen went into the buildings to save people. He asked a lot of questions, a lot of questions. I kept it simple. Yes, a lot of people died, I said. It was very, very sad, I said. He asked me why men would fly airplanes into buildings. I said I didn’t know…I couldn’t come close to answering that one.
Maybe I made a mistake in telling him. He’s very curious and wants to know everything. He doesn’t stop with one question and one generic answer. He is forever questioning and wondering and wanting things to be explained in detail. This is the kid who would not take “those are things for mommies” as an answer when he inquired about feminine hygiene products.
I knew what I was getting into when I told him. I know he won’t forget about this. I know more questions are coming. What I don’t know is if I have the answers.
I’m left wondering… did I do the right thing? Normally I err on the side of less is more. But something about 9/11..I felt it had to be told. Did I tell him too soon? Is four years old too young to know about something this horrific? Have you told your kids? Why or why not?