We all have our memories of 9-11. Mine are very different than the average east coast person and different than most folks. I’m not discounting or negating the tragedy experienced by other people on that day, but for me 9-11 is all about a baby being born and the celebration of that baby’s birthday each year.
The son was born on 9-11-92. I had an emergency Cesarean section, and I won’t tell my birth story here. At the age of 38 I was delighted to have a child though I had made the conscious decision not to have children. My life was not always stable, I made very little money, and was conscientiously using contraceptives. I had always wanted children so when he surprised us with his conception, despite all precautions, I was not about to deny whatever biological miracle or the hand of God was given to me. Everything happens for a reason.
Being an older primagravida, I was advised by all the health personnel to abort because of the risk of having a defective child. What did they know? Women have had defective children and raised them since the dawn of time. I didn’t care by that point if I gave birth to an elephant, I was having me a baby. My baby, the son.
I was so glad to have him, to watch him sleep and eat, and wash him and dress him and hold him. He smiled and smiled at me. I was hooked. Contraceptives went out the window. I didn’t know how I’d take care of them but I wanted four or five of the little buggers, as many as I could have before time ran out. Didn’t happen; I just got the one, but he’s a keeper. And we saved a bundle on contraceptives.
My onlyborn turned 9 years old on 9-11-2001. 9 is such a great age. You are old enough to start being very savvy and curious enough to ask. We never watch TV in the morning, especially before school. I think screen time is a bad way to start the day for my family. I took him into school that morning, into his classroom, with a bag full of treats to share with the other students and instructions for the teacher. The TV was blaring and the teacher wouldn’t even look at us. I finally had to say something cranky before he turned around and said in a daze, “Haven’t you heard? Twin Towers in New York City have been attacked. Don’t you watch the news?” In vain, I tried to explain why our family doesn’t watch the news in the morning while he didn’t even listen, watching the same news report over and over.
Now. This was important news. For adults. But he had that TV on all day long with a classroom full of third graders. Third graders, who should be watching this kind of stuff under the supervision of their parents. And the way he acted when I was there talking to him, I’ve always questioned whether he did any teaching at all that day or if he just watched the news in a stupor of disbelief or shock. Had I known he was going to leave the TV on all day I would have pulled my son from class.
As it was, the hubster and I had decided no TV all night, took the son and his friend out to dinner and a movie and dawdled as long as we could over ice cream and cake with candles and wishes, presents, and all the frippery and fol-de-rol a birthday celebration requires. Instead of TV we had another video to watch after taking the friend home and a good book to snuggle with to wind down after all the long day’s stimulation.
The next day, when we talked about the day before, the son told me about the TV on at school and I went in and asked the teacher and the principal to not have that happen again. I insisted it was not their place to expose third graders to tragic events no matter how historic; that should be the realm of parental guidance. He reported no TV that day nor the rest of the year.
It took me about three years of talking to help him understand the events of that day were not his fault and had nothing whatsoever to do with him. Birthdays were and still are the worst because everybody makes a big deal about that event and not his birthday. (I sort of fail when it comes to putting on birthdays, the cake goes wrong or the meal doesn’t turnout, the restaurant makes a bad meal that day, the present is wrong, the year I didn’t know pinatas are sold empty and you have to fill them yourself, sheesh, you know, Murphy’s Law) I imagine people who were born on Pearl Harbor Day might have the same sorts of confused feelings. I also think had he not had the TV blaring in his classroom all that day it might have been a little easier on him.
And the teacher never handed out his birthday treats. They came back in a sack at the end of the school year along with the other detritus from his desk. But let’s not chat about school districts and tax dollars here.
So. 9-11 is here again. At a little after 7:00 AM, 9-11-2013 the son will be 21 years of age. Of. Age. OF AGE. He has survived and thrived at least to this point. He’s a good man who is empathetic, conscientious, and loves other people. I pray he has a safe, happy, and eventful journey through his next 80 or 90 years.