Hayden has a t-shirt that says "Home of the Brave"-- it is gray, but on the front it has a design of the American flag stars & stripes, inside of a star shape. He knew that it was Red, White, & Blue Day at school and I explained to him that's why I picked out the shirt for him to wear. He always likes to see his clothes for the next day on his clothes tree, so since it was hanging there I pointed out the colors of the flag.
I wore a blue & white top and a pin:
The bottom pieces of the ribbon represent the Twin Towers and the back of the pin is embossed with, "Copyright 9/11/2001". Hayden noticed the pin while I was helping him get dressed and asked me about it.
I told him I was wearing it because I am showing support for America. I told him 11 years ago on this day there was an accident in New York City. Initially, he innocently answered, "that stinks." I agreed with him, and added that it was a horrible day or an awful day-- something to that effect. To which he asked, "What happened in that place?"
I told him that planes flew into buildings. In his own way, he asked why the guy flew the plane that way. I said because they were bad people and they wanted the buildings to fall down. My son actually asked me, again in his own way, how did the people get out. I said some of them made it down the stairs, and some did not make it out. "Smoke?" he asked. "Yes," I said, very proud that he understood. "Firemen?" he added. "Yes, there were so many firemen."
Later that day after school and work, he again pointed out my pin and we had a mini-recap of the conversation. It was brief, and then he started talking about something else.
Every year I wear this pin on September 11th and sometimes during the month of September, on and off. Hayden never asked about it before and I was glad he did, but I was also taken by surprise. I stalled for a moment because I didn't know what to say about the pin... do I just tell him it's the American flag and those are two buildings but leave it at that? Do I just say I'm wearing it for Red, White, and Blue Day, too?
In recent years Hayden is now grasping the concept of holidays but mainly the kind where there is some sort of gift involved. For example, I tried explaining to him why we were having dinner at Grandma & Poppy's on Sunday because it's Rosh Hashanah and it's the Jewish New Year. However, I could tell that wasn't really resonating with him and I just sort of stopped there... because to explain there are two different calendars... never mind.
But I think my child with special needs understands plenty:
He knows that on Tuesday, Mommy was wearing a pin. It has red, white, & blue in it just like the shirt he wore to school.
And he knows it is wrong to fly a plane into a building.
Yes, he understands just what he should.