We spent a certain amount of time reminiscing about where we were and what we were doing when the towers fell. At the time, I had a 2 year-old on my hands. I spent a great deal of every day telling him not to eat that bug, don’t throw the train car at the window, and for goodness sake get that BUG OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
Suffice it to say, I did not watch a lot of television at that point in my life and that was before we all carried cell phones with us on a regular basis. About the time the first tower was hit, I got a phone call from my father. He told me what was going on but I didn’t believe it. I turned on the TV.
I didn’t think my toddler was paying much attention until we went outside. You see, we lived in the flight path of our local airport. Predictably enough, we hadn’t been outside too long before a jet passed overhead. As soon as my son saw it, he took off for the house. He had learned enough to think that hiding from aircraft was a good idea.
One of the things that I learned from this experience was that children understand a lot more than we assume. Respect that. It doesn’t mean that everything that we write should be edgy. But it does mean that we are writing for small people who in many ways resemble sponges. They absorb a lot.
What we give them to mull over needs to be worthy. If you are writing for their entertainment, writing something that is engaging even if it is a little twisted. Amuse them and amuse them well. If you write to educate, don’t write down. They may be small but they are surprisingly sophisticated for people who need to be told not to eat that bug.