This past Friday was the anniversary of the September 11th attacks. As is true with most Americans, I remember everything about the moment I heard about the attacks. Eight years later and my heart rate goes up and I begin to quake when I remember that day.
Robby is only three. He wasn't born when the attacks occurred. I don't want to scare him, but I think it is important for him to understand the significance of that day. Those events changed the country that he has been born into. I struggled to find a way to commemorate the somber day with a toddler, without evoking fear.
That morning, I sat Robby down and explained that it was a sad day. That a long time ago, a very bad thing happened and people are sad today. I told him that a lot of people got hurt, including firefighters.
To be honest, he wasn't interested in my talk until I mentioned the firefighters. Typical little boy I suppose! In any case, he said, "Firefighters sad." I said that yes, they were sad today. To my delight, Robby came up with his own idea. He asked, "Robby make cookie. Make firefighters happy."
What a wonderful idea! We made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies to take to the fire station. Robby chattered about the fire fighters and the "big woo woo truck" as we mixed, spooned and baked the cookies. He dug through his clothes bins and found his favorite fire fighter "woo woo" shirt to wear when we delivered the cookies.
Robby and I talked about the fire fighters on the drive to the fire house. I explained that they are very brave. I explained that they keep people safe. I explained that they are heroes. He broke into the "Higgley Town Hero" song.
I know I am biased, but he looked so cute as he handed the cookies to the firemen. I explained that we wanted to do something to commemorate 9/11, but that it was hard to find an appropriate activity for a toddler. The firemen seemed thrilled with the cookies. Robby gave them each a big hug and said, "Thank you" as he left the station.
I was hoping that the activity made an impact on Robby, but one can never be sure what a toddler will take from an experience. He made cookies which was fun. He got to deliver the cookies and meet the firemen which was a thrill. Otherwise, I didn't think that he took anything significant out of the project.
Today we had to go to the pharmacy. As we were walking through the aisles waiting for the prescription to be filled, Robby spotted a fireman. He got a huge smile, and went running straight towards him. Unprompted and before I could catch him, Robby threw his arms around the unsuspecting man's legs and said, "Thank you, hero." That's good enough for me.