Every morning, Ryan gets up, heads downstairs and turns on NHL Network. He watches classic games, documentaries, last night’s highlights. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s hockey.
Yesterday, on September 11, Ryan got up, headed downstairs, and turned on … the morning news.
We didn’t ask him to. We didn’t tell him to. He turned on the news because he had talked about 9/11 in class on Monday, leading to a further discussion at home that evening. We told him the memorials would be covered on the morning news shows, so he decided to watch all on his own.
Explaining world events to Ryan has never been easy (you might recall his confusion about the identity of the world’s most notorious terrorist) and he was still struggling to understand how and why 9/11 happened. I think we can all agree: there’s nothing abnormal about that.
The significant thing about yesterday was not the depth of Ryan’s understanding or lack thereof, it was that Ryan was interested on his own to learn more. This wasn’t a conversation we forced upon him. He discussed it in class, was curious, and brought that discussion home. As we always do when opportunities to broaden his world view present themselves, we encouraged further conversation on the topic.
I asked if he wanted to take a ride to the 9/11 memorial in our town. We are located perhaps 20 miles from lower Manhattan, and there is a memorial on an overlook that offers a view of New York City. I was hoping Ryan would agree to drive through it, allowing us to see the “Tribute in Light” that is turned on each year at this time. It was nearing Ryan’s bed time, and he declined, so I went to pick up Riley from soccer practice without him. On the drive to get her, I realized the tribute’s blue beams could be seen from spots all over our town. She and I drove past the memorial, but when we got home and stepped out of the car, I could see the lights rising above distant trees right from our front yard. In 10 years of that memorial being turned on, I never realized I could see it from my house.
Ryan was not quite asleep, so we stirred him and told him to come take a look, which he willingly did. By morning, he was parked in front of the morning news, ready to learn more.
This morning, it was back to NHL Network, and that’s fine. A spark of genuine interest in a topic outside of his typical fixations had been lit, and that is what I will take away from this year’s 9/11 remembrance.
- WTC Tribute Lights Up Manhattan Skyline (manhattan.ny1.com)