Tag Archives: parenting

Question: How do we explain this to post-9/11 children?


In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pres. Obama last night announced that Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid on a compound in Pakistan.

The initial U.S. reaction was celebratory. People partied in the streets outside of the White House.

There are a lot of young people in these photos. Probably a lot of students from Georgetown, a lot of young professionals who were up late.

I remember where I was on Sept. 11, 2001. I was at school. It happened during my first period class, then I went to lunch, and when I got to Earth-Space Science the Twin Towers were falling on TV. I didn’t understand. I thought we were going to be talking about gravity and its effects via a fun lesson using demolition as an example. My enthusiasm for what I thought was going to be a lesson was shut down quickly by my teacher, who already had expressed his dislike for me and what he declared my “incredible ability to put science on the back burner.” (I hated him so much.)

This was tenth grade. I was cognizant enough to know the differences in national emotion. It was like someone snapped their fingers and, suddenly, everything changed. I turned 16 about two months later, and I remember reading 9/11-related news the morning of my birthday. I also remember the night after the towers fell. I remember moving a TV into my room to watch round-the-clock coverage on MSNBC. I watched Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw with a sense of complete awe — part of the reason I decided to go into journalism.

Many of these kids look like they’re 18. I would estimate that on 9/11, they were between 7 and 9 years old. They may have a pretty good idea of what life was like before 9/11. They may remember their parents being emotional, watching the news, stowing away the newspaper the next morning in a safe place. Children in New York understand this well, I’m sure, as do those in Washington, D.C.

But I guarantee there are kids here in Florida who can’t comprehend the real, powerful emotions people feel when hearing that Osama bin Laden is dead. There are kids in elementary school today who can’t understand why their teachers are sneaking looks at the news on their cellphones, or keeping one tab of an internet browser open on CNN. There are kids who heard their parents cheer when the news broke last night and, roused from sleep, asked for an explanation.

But how do you explain something like that to a child? How can you justify being jubilant when you hear the news that someone has died? How are parents handling this? You have to be handling it somehow; it’s the top story on the news, and it’s on every newsstand, and there’s no way they haven’t seen it or heard it from friends.

Do you tell them the back story? Do you explain the event of 9/11 first to put the current situation in context? When you tell them, do you tell them about the people falling from the towers before the towers themselves crumbled to the ground? Do you gauge how much you can tell them by their age, or do you assume they’ll learn about it later anyways? When you come to today, do you first ask how much they know? Do you show them Pres. Obama’s address? Do you let him tell your children, because you’re too speechless to say it yourself?

I’m asking these questions not to be critical, but to get a better idea of how parents are handling this. As someone who only has had pets, I can’t comprehend the difficulty of being in this situation where there are images of people partying — revelry in the streets — and it’s in response to the news of someone’s death. I have so much sympathy for parents trying to deal with this right now.

It’s a huge event, sure to be in history books in the future, and obviously it’s important to put it into perspective for the little ones. So how is that achieved? It’s a question I can’t answer, and I think it certainly is one with which we’ll struggle more as this war continues.

Fun in public bathrooms.


Yesterday, my boyfriend took me to the Rainforest CafĂ© for an early Valentine’s Day lunch. As usual, part of the day included a visit to a public ladies room.

The idea of public bathrooms confuses me. Whether or not you get a clean stall is basically a crap shoot (pun only slightly intended). Depending on how busy the bathroom is and how bad you have to go, you might get stuck going into a stall with a toilet seat covered in, oh, let’s say five different bodily fluids.

Even with that knowledge, I understand I’m there for a purpose. I lay down some toilet paper on the seat and get to work. Still, there’s something that happens in public bathrooms that absolutely makes my skin crawl, and it takes place while you’re sitting in the stall.

Sorry, this isn’t about glory holes … and I probably shouldn’t have written that in this post. God knows I already get some weird people floating in from Google searches. (Remember the exploding possums?) Who knows. Maybe I’m going to reach an entirely new level of readership because of that.

Here’s where I’m going with this:

Probably the worst thing to happen to me when I’m sitting on the toilet in a public restroom is that I go to get some toilet paper and the roll goes crazy. Then it happens.

The toilet paper hits the floor.

No matter how big of an environmentalist you are, when you see that toilet paper touch the floor you immediately rip it off and throw it away. And then it gets worse, because sometimes you’re only leaving yourself with a few squares.

Honestly, who would use floor toilet paper? I don’t even like to think about the bottom of my pants leg touching the floor in a public restroom. There’s no way I’m going to use toilet paper that touches it.

Probably the worst part is that as it’s unrolling and you begin to realize the toilet paper is going to touch the filthy, germ-laden floor, you experience one of those horrific slow-motion NOOOOOOO moments.

What’s even worse is when you catch yourself yelling out loud, “Nooooooooooooooooooo!” Can you imagine what the person next to you is thinking? Actually, hold that … the person next to you probably isn’t thinking. They’re probably just focusing on trying not to let their toilet paper touch the floor.

Someone needs to figure out some kind of toilet paper allotment system that can help with this problem.

Let’s go over this once more: the floor in a public bathroom is extremely dirty. When people say, “That floor is so clean you could eat off it,” they are not talking about the floor in a public bathroom.

I once saw a woman letting her toddler walk around and put its hands all over the floor in a public bathroom, and had to stop to think if I was on one of those “What Would You Do?” segments on ABC. Should I tell her that her kid is probably contracting smallpox, or should I just walk away and let her learn a hard lesson in parenting?

The Daily Post suggestion for today inquires as to one thing I’ve learned recently. In response to that I would like to say,

Fool, I ain’t done no learnin’! I graduated in December! I’m finished with that crap (for now)!