In the Face of Change, I Still Sent Her to School

6 years ago

I watch this particular videotape once each year, when we drag out the home videos on one of the kid's birthdays and force them to watch footage of their younger years.

She is barely three years old in this scene; dressed in head-to-toe pink, small white tennis shoes, round glasses that frame her baby blue eyes, and a tiny backpack that hangs from her shoulders.

Her smile is contagious, even now.

In the background in a typical sing-songy mom's voice, I am quizzing her about the day ahead: her first day of preschool.

The date stamp at the bottom of the screen reads September 11, 2001.

"Where are you going today, sweetie?"


"Does Mommy stay every day at your school, or only sometimes?"

Just sometimes.

"And who will be at your school today?"

My best friend.

She was so incredibly excited to start preschool that morning. With a brother four years older, she already understood what school entailed.


And even though we Californians woke that morning to the crazy news that our nation was under attack, I felt the need to go on with this big day for my daughter. To move forward not as if nothing had happened, but as if what happened could never change our lives.

Listening to my sing-songy voice in the background, I try and remember what it felt like to drop her off at school that day, not really knowing where this whole horrible attack was heading.

Planes were grounded.

We have a large national laboratory in our town that could feasibly be considered a worthy target.

And yet, preschool beckoned.

Part of being a parent is knowing when to gently push them forward and when to hold them back. We are expected to know the right thing to do and what the outcome will be for each and every choice presented to our children. Many decisions of parenting are easy to make: right vs. wrong, bad vs. good, silly vs. serious.

But how do we tap into that inner strength to push ahead and tend to our children's needs when we ourselves have no clue what to do?

Did I bury my head in the sand that horrible day in September, or did I do my daughter a favor? How many children will never forget that day because of the devastation it unleashed on their lives? Parents were lost, homes were evacuated, entire lives were changed in one day.

My daughter was able to attend her first day of preschool.

A big part of me was still in denial at that point. Denying that such a devastating event could take place on United States soil, against people not any different from my very own family.

We didn't really know where it was all headed.

So I chose to soldier on, take my son to second grade as usual, and take my daughter to her first day of preschool.

Let life continue to seem normal in the face of uncertainty.

What would you have done?


Sherri blogs at Old Tweener, where she writes about parenting and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) while living in those years between changing diapers and wearing them.


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