In Remembrance

Where were you?

Nine years ago, I was in my classroom. Hannah was thrilled to be celebrating her birthday – she was nine years old! I took my third graders across the hallway to the computer lab, and the lab teacher broke the news to me. She was practically in tears.

“A plane hit one of the Twin Towers.”

At that moment, I couldn’t comprehend what she was telling me. Was she making this up? Was she exaggerating? Surely what she was telling me couldn’t be true.

I continued to teach that morning, cocooned away in my classroom.

During lunch, teachers crowded into the Principal’s office to watch the news on TV. Details were emerging, and the feelings of horror grew. What should we tell the kids? Should we let their parents tell them? Even though our our rural Midwestern community was surrounded by corn fields and not tall buildings, some parents came to take their children home early.

After school, I called my boyfriend, just to hear his voice and make sure he was all right.

The next day, Hannah told me how upset she felt. She was old enough to realize that September 11 would be remembered as a horrible day for a long time.

But it was her birthday. I tried to reassure her. She was a special girl, and her birthday would continue to be a special day.

Happy 18th birthday, Hannah!


As a former teacher, I am all about experimenting to learn about the world around you. The first lesson plan of many units usually begin with “Explore.” For example, when I taught a science unit on balance I would give my students a fulcrum, a balance beam, two buckets and a bunch of stuff to put in the buckets. I facilitated their discovery process–“What happens when…” or “What if…” and so on.

As a mother, to my dismay, I discourage experimentation. I overheard Lily telling Emmy, “Let’s play Humpty Dumpty on the back of the couch!” The living room echoed with a resounding “NO!” as I ran in from the kitchen. As a mother, I am full of contradictions.

“Yes, you may dunk your Oreo into your milk.” “No, you cannot see if your broccoli tastes better dunked in your milk!”

As I experiment with giving Emmy a glass of milk instead of a sippy cup, she experiments with immersing her whole hand into the milk. She learns about displacement of liquid; I learn patience as I wipe up the spilled milk.

This weekend, Ed was using styrofoam to insulate the hatch to our attic. This small square of plywood measures only about three feet by three feet, and only large sheets of styrofoam were available at the hardware store. As Ed cut squares to glue onto the hatch, he had big pieces of leftover styrofoam which he gave to Lily and Emmy to play with. The teacher in me was pleased as they got out their play tools from Lily’s Handy Manny workshop and started to experiment with the styrofoam. This kept them occupied for quite a while. They were instructed to stay on the blue rug in the foyer.

I was cleaning up the kitchen (not facilitating the experiment as a good teacher should) and all was well until Ed took the now insulated hatch up to the attic entrance in our linen closet. He was busy refilling the closet, when some little voices in the foyer began getting louder and louder.

Read: Lack of supervision = chaos

The styrofoam had exploded into a white snowstorm on the blue rug and manic giggles were exploding from our four-year-old. Mommy me kicked in and yelled, “STOP!” The styrofoam experiment was over. I vacuumed the rug AND the girls. They had had a blast, and I had had enough.

Even though I haven’t been in the classroom for five years, it’s nice to know a small part of the teacher is still lurking somewhere inside of me. Personally, I think she’s way more fun than the mother side of me.

Lily seems to disagree, however. As we were snuggling at bedtime, she said, “If you weren’t my mommy, I’d have the wrong mommy.”