What Do I Tell Tori?

September 19 - Like most of our nation, 620 WDAE morning host Sandy Penner has decided to take a break from football this week. In his column, Penner ponders the question of how he should explain last Tuesday's tragic events to his daughter, Tori.

She's only 19 months old so she doesn't understand the evil that was perpetrated on September 11. As adults, we watched the worst day of our lives, but in her world, everything was great. She still danced around the living room and tried to playfully steal things from the kitchen, all while our nation was being torn apart. She needs to know I thought, then realizing she wouldn't understand, not yet anyway. I immediately thought of all the parents that had kids who were old enough to know. What would they tell them? How could they be reassuring? She's so innocent, so pure, like all kids that age. She can't live in a world where buildings are rammed by airplanes full of people. I can't let her.

February 16, 2000. The day my beautiful daughter Tori was born. From that day forward she would know no pain, no anguish, no grief. I wouldn't let her. My love for her is so overwhelming that I might have to lie to her before I alert her to what she'll encounter in this new world of hers. How could I look this precious child in the eye and tell her that this much hate exists. What if my explanation isn't good enough? Wouldn't I have to explain it to myself before I explain it to her, or do I make up something that sounds good so she's not traumatized by it.

My heart aches for the lives lost and altered by this tragedy. I don't need to rant and rave about how the world will never be the same because we all know it won't. But, despite the human loss, the first thing I thought about was Tori. She doesn't know a world yet, so it can't be changing. I want her to know that Daddy will make everything OK. I can always explain to her why a player fumbled or missed an easy shot. But this won't be so easy. I want Tori to live a life free of fear and hate, and as much as I know it won't happen, she doesn't have to know that.

Tori is my life and her happiness is my mission. When she cries because she can't find one of her toys, or she's hungry, her mother and I fix it. The visions of planes hitting the World Trade Center can't be fixed, not now, not ever. Maybe it's selfish for me during this time of great country mourning to be thinking mostly about my little girl but since she's my life, I can't help it. It's not just her, but all the children who don't have an ounce of hate in their bodies, but will grow up surrounded by it. It's hard for me to fathom that the people that committed these unspeakable acts were once just like Tori. Children are the future of our country and the greatest gift we could ever be given. The memory of Sep 11, 2001, will stay with me for life but the memory of Feb 16, 2000 will stay with me forever.

What do I tell Tori?


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