Visiting The 9/11 Memorial with Kids

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with Kids Times Square. Central Park. The MET, MoMA, and Guggenheim. Manhattan certainly isn’t short on memorable landmarks and iconic attractions. Taking in a Broadway show might mean prepping the kids on theatre etiquette, but how does one prepare the family for a visit to the 9/11 Memorial? How young is too young? What do you tell them about that sunny day in September when the world came crashing down in a cloud of concrete dust and shattered aircraft?

Tough questions, all of them. Do I have the answers? No, not really. Only you can answer for your own family. What I can do is share what I know, and our family’s story in hopes that you’ll find some guidance in it. I will say that even if this post answers none but one question, it should be, “Go. When it’s right for you. Go.”

The first thing you should know is that visitors are admitted to the 9/11 Museum on a timed-entry. You may arrive at 10:00 a.m. and not be able to get a ticket that lets you in until two hours later. Plan for this. My advice is to stop at the memorial first, get your tickets to the museum, and then go explore the area. You’re within walking distance of Battery Park, always a great destination for families.

Once you enter the doors you’re shuttled through a TSA style entry process, complete with bag x-ray and metal detectors. There is a coat check area where you’re encouraged to leave bags and belongings that may get in the way of the crush of people joining you on the journey. Do this, you’ll be glad you did.

Visit the website before you go, they provide all sorts of resources and support for families visiting with children. There are also docents on-site who are happy to point you to resources housed at the memorial.

Steel remains of the girders that once held up one of the Twin Towers. Viewed from between the Freedom Tower rises like a Phoenix from the ashes.
Steel remains of the girders that once held up one of the Twin Towers. Viewed from between the Freedom Tower rises like a Phoenix from the ashes.

In the museum, there is one exhibit that clearly states it may not be appropriate for younger children. Here you’ll find first person audio recordings, see video (some graphic – these are tastefully hidden behind blinds), artifacts, and vignettes displaying everything from the dust covered clothing of a store front frozen in time on that day, to a recount of the first terrorist attempt on the building in 1993.

In that room is were our personal story begins.

My husband is a Native New Yorker, born and raised. His first real job out of college was working as an Import Specialist for the U.S. Customs Service at the World Trade Center.  He was at his desk in 1993 when a bomb detonated in parking garage.

For him this place is so much more than “Ground Zero”, it represents a chapter in his life. One he talks about often, remembering with fondness some of characters he worked with, his city as it was before, and after. With every trip to Manhattan, when we’d pass by the cordoned off remains of the twin towers, the kids would ask him to tell the stories.

I thought these stories would be enough for them, they’d understand when we went, know why it was important to go. I was wrong. Even I was unprepared. Honestly, I don’t believe anyone could ever be prepared for this place.

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with Kids
Steel support with “signatures” on it from first responders and recovery workers. To the left, one of the original foundational walls from the towers.

As you descend into museum itself the air starts to shift. An escalator moves visitors downward, passing below the remnants of steel girders that once held up one of the towers. You’re deposited into a concourse where a timeline of the events of September 11th, 2001 begin to unfold in a multimedia presentation. Never have I been in a space with so many people and so little noise.  It is both comforting and unnerving. 

Here is where the questions from the kids started. We find out that the two youngest haven’t learned much in school about 9/11 and we’ve failed as parents in educating them from our experiences.  Yet, I doubt that anything we could have told them, or showed them, would have had as much impact as standing next to a crushed fire engine.

NYFD Ladder 3 sits as a moving reminder of those who went in, giving all to save others.
NYFD Ladder 3 sits as a moving reminder of those who went in, giving all to save others.

The kids knew daddy had worked here, they even knew that his friend Bob – who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald – passed away here that day. They didn’t know so many other things -what Bob looked like, his picture is here on a wall. We just didn’t talk about 9/11 that much. I’m sure some part of me didn’t bring it up as much out of respect for what it meant to my husband on a personal level. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I’m the daughter of a fire chief and can’t help but cry thinking of all the children of firefighters who lost loved ones that day. No matter the reason, we just didn’t talk about it – as a family.

Coming to this place gave us reason – permission – to talk, to cry, to join with the kids in wondering why. Because honestly, who can answer that question, no matter how old we are?

I’ve always believed that travel has a power to educate in a way that no textbook or lecture ever could. Being in the moment, at the site where history occurred, seeing artifacts in person, hearing the story from those who lived it, that is how we learn. It is the gift that travel gives us, that this place gave to my children.

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial with Kids So if you ask me if you should take your kids to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, I’d have to say yes. Though I’d also tell you that you know your family best, share with them before you go. Find a way to have the hard conversations that will help you tell your own story.  Tell the story. Our children must know, we must never forget.

 

365 Small Things

Waxing philosophical about the closing of the chapter known as 2014? Me too. Admittedly in years past I’ve been a tad bit snarky about the making of resolutions. The roots of my disdain for the public deceleration of one’s intent to “fix” things in the New Year may stem from my inability to waive away the cheese platter for more than a week. If I had a pound for every new year in which I resolved to lose weight… that would be great. Certainly better than the 10 pounds I’ve got now. 

This year rather than being crotchety, contrary, or committing to resolve nothing, I’ve chose to think small.

It seems to me that the bulk of resolutions made by the masses invovle some sort of commitment to ‘Self’. While I wholeheartedly agree that I can do with innumerable improvements, I also accept that those are going to take far longer than a twelve months. Why not try looking outside myself this year?

Something I’ve noticed in my decades on this rock hurtling in orbit around a cosmic bonfire, is that it feels damn good to make other people feel good. (Not, that… come on people, lets be adults. Okay, I giggled too) The great thing about this is that it doesn’t take much. Time, money, effort… not much.

Yes, this is not the newest of ideas. Random Acts of Kinds, The Happiness Project, The Hug Tour, 100 Good Deeds, and the whole Social Good movement – all awesome, all came before me. 

I tend to be a big thinker I want to do ALL. THE. THINGS. That desire eventually gets me mired down in details and – to be honest – I don’t end up getting much done. What I need some small, with a dash of that not much of any of those.

Here is the plan: find some small thing to do each and every day of 2015 that makes someone feel happy, supported, appreciated, puts a smile on their face, makes them laugh themselves into tears, or gives them that extra boost they need.

Totally. Doable.

Along the way I’ll post a few photos on Instagram using the hashtag #Small365, if you’d like to follow along… or hey JOIN IN!

Small 365 Do ONE Thing a day for someone else

If you have a really lousy day, or an epically awesome one, know someone who needs a nudge to bring out that gorgeous smile, or that quite super hero that needs a spotlight, Let me know! I will be thrilled to send along some ‘Small’. 

Kicking things off early, let me start with a Thank YOU.

I’ve been spewing my random wordage all over this blog for over ten years. Some of you have been with indulged me since the very beginning. Others may just be taking their first spin on my personal tilt-a-whrill. Each and every one of you that stop by, read a post or two, leave a comment, enter a giveaway, like a pin or pic, pop in on Facebook or Tweet with me have given me a gift beyond measure – your time. For that I am thankful beyond expression. Which is saying something when we’re talking about a girl who suffers from chronic wordiness.

 

Christmas Rewind with Wizzard

I love that my teen is open to all sorts of musical and artistic expression. Okay, really I mostly love that she digs the same music I do.  One of my favorite parenting moments came when the manager of The Violent Femmes liked a tweet about my kids rockin’ out to ‘Kiss Off’ on one of our epic road trips.

I. Win. Parenting.

While making merry and junk, she began to ponder complain about Christmas songs that get remade with each generation (lack of creativity much?) Wanting to prove that the holiday music scene has more to offer than the 2,147th remake of ‘Santa Clause is Coming To Town’ I decided to I’d share my favorite Christmas song with her; ‘Fairy Tale of New York.’

Naturally we went to YouTube, because actually seeing Shane MacGowan sing is a gift in itself. She loved it, I beamed. Then YouTube served up another Christmas-themed-British-type music video.  My words fall short in describing this, so I’ll just let the video speak for itself.

Were two drummers really necessary? Why is there just one balloon, and is that child beating himself with it? Don’t even get me started on the guy at the piano or the overuse of blue eyeshadow. Did he just kick that child? This is a CLASSIC!

Her reaction… “All. The. Drugs. They must have been on all the drugs.”

Happy Christmas!

 

Bourbon Cherry Dark Chocolate Fudge

Bourbon Cherry Dark Chocolate FudgeHonestly, does a post with a title like this really need anything more than a recipe? I could tell you about how I’ve just recently developed an interest in bourbon, and the craft of distilling it. Could go on about how discovering I like it has sparked all sorts of mixology adventures. Maybe I should tell you that Maker’s Mark enlisted me in some boozy baking fun, and that they helped in the development of this recipe by sending along a bottle of their amber awesome for me to play with. But really, all you want to know is…

“How do I get this in my belly… NOW?!”

So here ya go, you chocolate-loving-booze-hounds. (people after my own heart)

Bourbon Cherry Dark Chocolate Fudge IngredientsOne note about ingredients : Though fudge is oft made with semi-sweet or milk chocolate, this recipe uses high cacao content dark and semi-sweet chocolates. Why? Because this blend helps showcase the smokey notes of the bourbon and plays well with the tart cherry flavor. I tested a few chocolate options and this final blend took the recipe over the top – which is what boozy chocolate should be, right?

Bourbon Cherry Dark Chocolate Fudge
Serves 24
Dark, rich and delish, adding bourbon and cherries takes this fudge from holiday treat to confection perfection. I highly recommended using both good quality chocolate and vanilla bean rather than extract.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup Bourbon (I used Makers Mark)
  2. 1 cup Dried Dark Cherries
  3. 1 pod Vanilla Bean
  4. 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  5. 1 cup Sugar
  6. 5oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
  7. 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  8. 6 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  9. 6 oz Dark (70% Cacao) Chocolate
Instructions
  1. Place cherries and bourbon in a small sauce pan, allow to simmer on medium heat until most of the bourbon is absorbed into the cherries. Set aside. In a double boiler over medium heat combine milk, sugar, vanilla caviar (insides of the pod) and butter. Allow to come to a simmer. Add chocolate by 1/2 cups, whisking to combine. Once all chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Stir in cherries and bourbon until combined. Place in a disposable 8x8 foil pan. Top with dried cherries, pecans, walnuts, or almonds (optional). Allow to cool. Refrigerate for a minimum of three hours before serving.
Notes
  1. If you prefer a more pronounced bourbon flavor, decrease the amount of condensed milk by 1 ounce and increase the bourbon to 3/4 of a cup.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom http://chickennuggetsofwisdom.com/

 

 

I have four kids and an opinion.