Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not My Normal Post

I greeted them at the door to our trailer, just like I had each day for the first five days of fourth grade.

Ms. Orr, you lied to us.
I know, I’m sorry.
Why, Ms. Orr, why did you lie to us?
I had to. We didn’t know enough. We couldn’t answer your questions.

We gathered in a circle on our chairs, just like we’d done each day for the first five days of school.

I’m sorry for lying. I know this was hard for you. If you have questions now I will answer them, if I know the answer, and it will all be truth.

Why did they do it?
I don’t know. People have lots of thoughts and ideas but no one actually knows. We can only guess.

Who did it?
I’m not certain about that either. Again, there are lots of guesses and people think they know but it’s not certain yet. I do think we will figure out the answer to that question though. It will just take time.

My people did it.

It was a small boy, only nine years old, wearing his hair up on the front of his head like all males in the Sikh religion.
My heart broke.
It wasn’t your people. You had no connection to the people who did this. None at all.

I didn’t think he believed me. I still don’t.

Last year I wrote about my memories of September 13, 2001. This past summer, during the Invitational Summer Institute one of the teachers had us study several pages of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. She then had us write in that style about a powerful event in our lives. She doesn't require her students to write about September 11th because most of them don't remember it well enough. I chose to write about September 13th. 

Here in the suburbs of D.C. we did not have school on the 12th. So much was uncertain and unstable it was decided best not to have students in school and buses on the road. September 13, 2012 was possibly the most challenging day I have ever had as a teacher.

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