My big four and a half year old came home from preschool yesterday with red dots and blue lines drawn, in marker, on his hand. He proudly pointed to his art work and explained that he drew the flag for "America and all the people who got dead". Again. Again with the "got dead" theme. This obsession of his has been with us since September 11th and it doesn't look like it is going away anytime soon.
We sat him down and explained, in truly preschool terms, what happened on that fateful day ten years ago. He was planning to go to the Cleveland Browns football game on the anniversary of the tragic events and we knew that the NFL would surely be putting on some sort of remembrance. We thought it best to mention it to our son before he heard it from someone else, so to speak. I don't think we even said that anyone died. But kids are intuitive. And they overhear a lot more than we think they do. So who knows where he heard the rest of the story - from us, mommy and daddy? From the day care teachers? From the news playing in the background of his life in the living room or the car?
So each day he comes home from school with a new picture he colored. Like the picture he drew of the monster trucks painted red white and blue. And the page full of butterflies - a yellow one for mommy, a purple one for love, a green one for gravedigger and a red one for the people who got dead. sigh. (don;t know who gravedigger is? concerned I am opening my child's sponge like brain to terrible things? click here.) he is bordering on obsession. And it is freaking me out.
He doesn't seem bothered by it. I ask him if he is sad about what happened, or if he is worried that it might happen again. And he says no. So maybe I just have a very compassionate little guy on my hands. And I know he is getting to that age where all the obsessions start. He can already name every monster truck. He can tell you the mascot for every NFL football team. He can quote lines from both "Cars" movies. This boy is not a newbie to obsessions. But because this newest one centers around people "getting dead" it worries me a little.
It's funny, really. I am no different than anyone else in America who wasn't touched personally by the events of September 11. I followed the news. I felt horrible - just terrible for the families who lost loved ones. I worried about the future and didn't like the thought of being in a large crowd, for fear of another attack. But eventually I turned the TV off and went back to my life. And when the 10th anniversary rolled around I registered it, I thought about where I was when I heard the news and how I was still living in my apartment in Akron where Brad and I eventually had to turn off the TV just to stop the constant barrage of coverage. Yes, I registered it. And I moved on. Life is here, in the moment. I have two small boys, one of whom is learning English and requires lots of extra patience to deal with his moods and frustrations. I have a household to run and the mom taxi to drive. I have meals to shop for and prepare and a husband to keep track of. Oh, and I have a thousand verses of We Are the Dinosaurs to sing. That alone takes up most of my day.
But my big four and a half year old seems to have plenty of time to think about America. My big four and a half year old who is not even American by birth is currently being a better patriot than his mommy. And his desire to wave the flag, and draw the flag, and talk about the flag- he didn't get that from me. My travels around the world have made me totally appreciate my life here in this country, that much is true. But I am not over the top patriotic. So a part of me is proud of my little guy. So so proud. And maybe I shouldn't worry about this obsession with the people who "got dead". Maybe next month I'll be looking back at this obsession fondly, as I live through his next one. I have a feeling it is just beginning...