The day started off normal enough for me. I took my eight-year old son to school and came home to put my baby daughter down for her nap. Then my husband called me and told me to turn on the news. The date, September 11, 2001.
For several months leading up to that horrible day, my son had been suffering from nightmares. He was convinced that monsters were lurking everywhere, under his bed, in his closet, even outside his window.
“I know they are there, Mommy,” he would whisper, his big brown eyes peeking out from the covers he pulled over his head.
“They won’t get in,” I assured him.
The covers lowered ever so slightly. “How do you know that?”
I pulled out a bottle. “I have Monster Spray. There is no way they can get through this.”
Of course the bottle really didn’t contain Monster Spray. It was water with a couple drops of essential oil, but my son bought it. A huge sigh of relief came from his tiny body as I sprayed the entire room. He slept soundly for the first time in months.
As I watched the footage of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, I realized my son was right. There were monsters and damned if they hadn’t got in. Huge sobs racked through my body as I watched the horror unfold in front of me. I had fooled myself as surely as I had fooled my son with that spray. I never thought that anything like that could happen to America. I believed that we were big kid on the block that no one would dare touch.
I had to pick my son up early that day because he had a dentist appointment. As I walked into the office to sign him out, I noted they had a small TV on and the staff were watching, their own heartbreak evident on their faces.
“Have you told the children?” I asked.
“No, we thought it would be better if their parents did.”
So as soon as I got my son in the car I did the hardest thing I ever had to do, I told him the truth. I knew there was no way to hide it from him and he deserved to hear it from me. It was hard to get the words out because I was so choked with grief. I had lost a bit of my innocence that day and now had to watch as he did too. He gave me a look that was a mixture of confusion, fear, and sadness.
“Why would they want to hurt us, Mommy?” His hand darted out toward his sister, who was sleeping in her car seat. He grabbed her hand in a protective gesture.
“I don’t know, honey,” I replied honestly.
There were a few moments of silence. “I guess we will have to use extra Monster Spray tonight,” he finally said.
“I guess we will, sweetie.”