My janitor was always stopping by my classroom to tell me his latest joke.
That morning, he stopped by my door and said, "Did you hear about the twin towers?" (I thought it was the beginning of another joke)
"No. What about them?" I said smirking.
"A plane flew into them."
I pause, thinking..."A plane flew into them... what?" (Really not understanding his joke!)
"No, a plane flew into them," he restated himself.
"I don't get it." I said completely confused.
"The twin towers. In New York. A plane. It flew into them. They think it is a terrorist attack."
"WHAT!!!!???" I shouted.
As the tragedy continued to unfold, we rotated and squeezed our classes into the Art room...the only TV available with live news feed.
I remember watching as people jumped from sky risers.
I think back to how I exposed fourth graders to that. Something I couldn't comprehend myself... and I exposed nine and ten year olds to it.
As I tried to explain to their young minds what was going on, I cried.
I cried because I knew (my then) brother-in-law was in the army and that he would be part of this fight.
I cried because I was scared.
I was scared for what was happening and what was to come.
We were then informed that gas prices would soon sky rocket.
Slowly, our principal let us leave a couple at a time to head to the closest gas station.
When I arrived, the gas station was packed. People were not being their courteous selves like I am used to in this area. They squeezed their cars as close to the next pump as possible, acting as if there was a total of 6 inches between them and the person pumping, they might loose their spot.
After I pumped, I headed inside to pay. I asked the gas station attendant how she was doing. She told me that her boss had called 20 minutes before and told her to up the prices, but in order for that to happen, she would have to turn off the pumps and there hadn't been a break for that to happen. Then the phone rang. It was her boss again. She told him that if he wanted to come and fight off the people pumping, while he turned off the pumps, then he could come fight, but she wasn't doing it!
When I arrived back to school, chaos was beginning to unfold. Parents were quickly arriving, taking their children and fearing for their safety.
It was such a confusing time.
Many of the kids, whose parents hadn't picked them up, cried. They worried about whether or not their parents were okay. Even though we didn't live any where near NYC, they didn't understand that. All they knew was something scary was happening and their parents weren't right there.
The images played and replayed as we wandered in and out of the Art room.
I didn't know what to feel or how to react.
Teaching, at that time, seemed foreign.
The kids, that were there, were in no state to receive or retain new knowledge.
I do remember doing a read aloud... taking them to a different time, a different place than this one we were currently all experiencing.
I thought about talking to my students this year about that day 9 years ago... the year that most of them were born in.
But I asked myself:
Do I want to relive those thoughts in front of another group of students?
Will I be scaring (and scarring) another group of students with knowledge I can't explain?
Will parents be upset with that decision of talking about a moment of our nation's history?
I don't know what I will do...
I hold in the highest regards to the men and women that gave their life that day.
It will always be etched in my brain.
Somehow, I wish it was a joke I just didn't get.