I teach school, 6th, 7th and 8th grade, in Marin County, an upscale area just north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate. School has been surreal since I arrived at work on the 11th.
It was a day I would never have imagined having to do, not in my wildest dreams. As a teacher, it was my job yesterday to talk to our kids, to try and help them to make sense of this event. Explaining morality, why we do not negotiate with terrorists, what an act of terror is, and why ... not to mention how we proceed, how to discern information from rumor, what are reasonable and unreasonable fears and precautions...
and so on. The kids asked me about germ warfare, about atomic weapons, about Islam and domestic terror, about possible targets in the Bay Area, about where they'd sleep if the bridges were closed and their parents could not get home. When was I licensed for this job? When did the mores of my heart and mind become the basis for interpretation of reality to these children? Did the state forsee this sort of lesson?
It was all day, and all day today. The casualties are starting to be recognized, and my students are begining to tell me of cousins, uncles, family friends dead, and many others missing. I can see that the fingers of this damage are reaching slowly across the country, and will touch our kids more seriously in the weeks to come. For the moment we are isolated, insulated from the immediacy of death and destruction, but this day has changed our lives, and the psyches of our children, forever.
This is not what they prep you for in Liberal Studies classes.
The things I keep having to say to my friends and family to describe these days have been like words spoken by someone else, another. It's not that the words are wrong, or not expressive of my mind, but that I would have to say them. That I would have to say them.