I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11 is a kindergartener

Where were you on September 11? I was 38 weeks pregnant with my youngest, and home in our apartment with my oldest, being between jobs (and far too preggers for any prospective employer to want to hear it from me). My husband called me from work and said to turn on the news and try to make sense of this footage. This plane seemed to have hit the World Trade Center. At that moment, beholding that scene, not once did it cross my mind a) that the attack was deliberate or b) that the towers would not hold up. The plane looked so small and the towers loomed so large.

What I remember of that day was the slow unfolding of the horror. It’s one plane, probably an unfortunate accident. It’s two planes, but the towers can easily withstand the hit. The one tower fell but the other tower will hold up. Where is the President? Another plane hit the Pentagon. Where is the President? There’s still another plane that missed its mark. How many are there and why can’t we stop them?

My sister would come over, weeping. I had a different reaction. I became robotic and practical. We would become news and command central for the family. We would learn that my father, who often travels for work, was in the financial district for a meeting; that my brother-in-law, an electrician, had just finished some restoration in the wing of the Pentagon that was hit. Both were fine, but my father and his colleagues were so desperate to get out of the city that they chartered a limousine to Baltimore.

My daughter would turn off the tv, saying, “I don’t like this show. It’s too violent.” Yes. Yes it is.

There was concern about a hospital bed and blood shortage. We lived near enough to DC that I was briefly concerned for my own imminent hospitalization. But of course the hospitals were fine when my son was born a few weeks later.

That son will turn six in a few weeks and that is the way I tell time. The September 11 attacks and everything that came after -- the fall of the Taliban, ink-stained fingers, “special registration”, the Department of Homeland Security, Guantanamo, “shoe bomber,” “enemy combatants,” “shock and awe,” “hidey hole,” Saddam on trial and executed -- have all taken place in the time it took for my child to learn to talk, walk, go potty, tie his shoes, and count to a hundred. September 11 is a kindergartener.

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