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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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School days

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Originally published September 15, 2006

This column is reprinted with permission from The Hills Newspapers.

I had a lot to learn in kindergarten.  When my first child started school, there were daily lunches to pack, homework projects to oversee, play dates to arrange, library books to return, new families to meet, field trips to supervise, parent meetings to attend, and jobs to do in class.

As a new kindergartner, my daughter had even more to learn.  Among the many challenges, she had to make new friends, get to know her teacher, and become familiar with a big school.  Because she started school in September 2001, she also had to learn about the events of 9/11.

My daughter was not supposed to hear about that terrible morning.  Without being told by parenting experts, I knew it was not a story to share with a five-year-old.  That was certainly the advice of her school in a letter sent home following the events.  Nevertheless, other five-year-olds at school did hear and shared it.

Along with learning how to swing across the monkey bars, my daughter was learning how horrible things happen in the world.  So horrible, it must be a bad dream or a made-up story.  Or the scariest movie ever —  planes running into skyscrapers.

When my daughter came home from school, she said, “The planes flew into the buildings”.  Although there was no question in her words, there was one in her voice.  I explained simply, “Some very bad people did a very bad thing”.  Even if she were old enough to hear more, that was probably the best explanation I could offer.

At the time, she did not ask further questions.  As with any grown-up subject innocently introduced by my young child, I did not answer more than was asked.  For my daughter, the events of 9/11 faded into the background of her kindergarten year.

Although 9/11 went away for most of us, it was not forgotten by any of us including my daughter.  As she has grown up over the years, she has recalled the events and asked questions like, “Why did they do it?”

While visiting New York City two years ago, it became clear that, as a kindergartner, she had not understood the true consequences for the people inside the buildings there.  During the visit, we found ourselves riding by the site of the World Trade Center.  With our children in the taxi, my husband and I were reflecting silently on the tragedy.  Just like the other five-year-olds back in kindergarten, the taxi driver brought the story to my daughter’s attention.  For the first time, she asked, “What happened to all those people?”

Now, five years have passed since my daughter entered kindergarten.  Not only has she mastered the monkey bars, but she has learned a lot of other important things.   For a school assembly, she was asked to read a paper she had written in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream”.  In the paper, she expressed her dream for no more wars.  Instead of fighting, she asked for people to meet and talk. She wrote, “It will not be called war then, but it will be called Great Discussion or G.D.  We will no longer speak about going to war, but speak about going to G.D.  It will save more lives, and it will be easier.”

Here it is September of 2006.  In the last five years, not all of us have come as far as a kindergartner.  We still have more to learn.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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