It happened at breakfast. I don't know why these things happen over breakfast. Maybe it is the quietness of the morning. Or the contemplative nature of maple syrup. But that is when my son started randomly telling me the story of how the twin towers fell on 9/11.
There was no prompt on my end. Not even a "What are you thinking about, honey?" There was just quiet chewing and then he asked me what happened to make the twin towers fall, because he heard that robbers stole a plane and crashed it into one of the towers.
I tried not to react (or choke on my eggs), but simply said my favorite phrase, "Why do you ask?"
He said he wanted to make sure I was in a safe building at work. I took a deep breath and explained about the fire drills we have and the building's overall safety. I answered his questions about all the ways I could exit the building if I had to. And then I asked him where he had heard the story about the towers.
"At school," which is a standard answer at our house. I've learned that further questions produce no results (except frustration on my end).
We finished breakfast. We talked about plans for the day. I strengthened my resolve about not letting him watch the news. We are not a news family - the news is not on in our household for his little ears to pick up distressing nuggets of information without the proper context. And that is a good thing, considering that children his age are not emotionally ready to deal with the broader world. But the day will come when we do have to discuss the world at large. And the news will have to be discussed and explained in bite-size, age-appropriate nuggets.
But maybe we can discuss it over the dinner table.
Do your children watch the news with you? If so, tell me how old they are in the comments.