September 11, 2001, is one of those dates in history that brings out the "sobering" side of this responsibility. Our homeschooling curriculum is driven by the Classical Conversations memory work, including the history timeline. One of the events on the Classical Conversations Timeline song is "September 11, 2001." We have sung it every year in Week 23 since my daughter was in Kindergarten, but have not yet delved into the details of all that happened on that date.
This year, she is in third grade, and today is September 11, 2016, the fifteen-year anniversary. And still, she does not have a clear understanding of the significance of this day. It is to her what the assassination of John F. Kennedy is to me - a point on a timeline from before my parents got married.
We do not shield her from it completely. It has been mentioned in church and by friends...and there is the Timeline Song. We are in week 3 right now, not week 23, but we listen to the Timeline Song regularly, all the way through, and so that date comes up again and again throughout the year. We talked about it just a bit tonight. She knows that planes crashed and people died, but after a minute or two, she was done and the topic changed.
Sometimes I wonder if we "should have" discussed this more with her already, but then I remember that there are very few global "shoulds" in the world of homeschooling and parenting - because children are so very different from one another in their ability to understand and process information at different ages. Our daughter is extremely analytical and verbal, and devours every book that makes its way into her hands. She has learned things from reading that I have never known (did you know some butterflies are poisonous?).
But she is still a little girl, and still in what classical education calls the "grammar stage" of learning. The stage where she is devouring information, but not yet making sense of it. Every so often, I get a glimpse of the next stage peeking through. She asked the other day what the Crusades were, because it is in this week's history sentence. It is the same memory work she did as a kindergarten student, but of course, she had no interest in learning more back then. Now she does, so we will delve into it a bit, and I will use her understanding and reactions to decide how much she needs to know now and what we will save for later.
September 11 is a bit like that, too. Occasionally, I will say something to her about it. When she asks for more information (and I know she will), I will offer it, and if she doesn't, we will choose a time to begin to broach it and other difficult topics in world history, always with a prayer for God to give me wisdom to know how much is enough for now.
But at the same time, that is part of my responsibility - and my privilege, not only as her homeschool teacher, but also as her mom - to introduce her to both the shadow and the light of the world, in ways appropriate to her age and maturity, with the goal of growing her up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord, prepared to make an impact on this sin-scarred world for His glory.