Spiders, Crocodiles and 9/11
A mother reflects on what 9/11 means to her children, who were born after the attacks.
-Shana Aborn, Momsperiments
“Moooommm?” It’s five minutes past bedtime. Stories have been read, water fetched, lights turned out, soothing classical music is playing. But all is not well in my son’s world: “I hear a tapping noise, and I think it’s coming from the CD player. Could you turn on the light and see if there’s a spider there?”
There’s no point in citing the infinitesimal odds that there actually is an eight-legger in wooden clogs doing the cha-cha in his room. At eight and a half, he’s going through an arachnophobic stage – “the more I know about spiders, the more I’m afraid of them,” he says. I know it’s best to respect his young fears, keep the ceiling corners clear of cobwebs and conduct the occasional CD-player spider check.
Later that night, my daughter wanders into our bedroom. “I had a bad dream,” she confides. “There was a crocodile, and I fell into the water, and it was going to eat me, but then it ate you…can you come sit with me?”
Crocodiles show up in her nightmares often; she grabs my hand while walking through the zoo and aquarium just in case we happen to pass a croc tank. Sometimes it’s ghosts, but the toothy reptile is tops on her terror list.
Soothing these nightly terrors is costing me a bit of sleep these days. But I just gulp an extra coffee (or two) and say a prayer of thanks that the only bad dreams they have are normal childhood fears of scary animals, which will go away in time. I’m grateful they don’t have to live with the memory of the day far more evil monsters attacked their city and took away a nation’s sense of security forever.
Born a few years after the attacks, my children are only just starting to learn what happened on that clear-blue September day. We use simple language, taking care not to overwhelm them with grim details, and offer reassurances that Mom and Dad will always do their best to protect them. For now, it is enough.