March 22nd, 2010

Rainbow || Rainbow northern lights.

Writer's Block: News development

What's the first major news event that you remember hearing about as a child? Where did you learn about it? How did it impact your world view?

I can't lie, at first when I saw this question I thought, 'Bah, I wouldn't remember anything important' because I was a pretty oblivious child. Intelligent, but free-spirited and oblivious by choice.

Then I did recall what my first news event was - the one that I really understood (at least partially) by my own rite, and one that I heard about not just from my parents (which I wouldn't have paid attention to or remembered). What you have to understand is that I was the go-outside-and-climb-a-tree girl more interested in chasing butterflies than hearing what the boring adults had to tell me.

But then there was news so unavoidable that even I, sitting in my Elementary School chair drawing wolves and thinking about being bullied, couldn't miss.

We were told about 9-11. Not much, not enough to understand, but the faces of our teachers told us more than the news stations would have anyway.

What the news gave: the facts, the numbers, the story.
What we understood through our teachers' faces: adults are scared, this is bad, we have to go home, our parents are worried.

It was a blow to us. We were the oldest kids in the school, at 11 and 12. We were expected to be responsible and helpful with the younger kids in the building (4th and 5th grade to our 6th). We were shocked out of our usual thoughts (boys, girls, wondering if maths would ever really get us anywhere, wondering what the point of history was, what was for lunch, what to do for recess, being bullied and bullying) into fear and the knowledge that something was Wrong, even if we didn't know what.

I understood later that day, when I was finally off the school bus, that the adults had every reason to fear.

It struck me. I played basketball in 5th grade with another short girl, Julia. We were around the same height. She always struggled since she was never very aggressive, but I was usually the most aggressive player on the team despite my short stature. People chuckled at the two shortest girls being on the same team, working side by side.

Our coach called us the Twin Towers.

I couldn't exactly be a Twin Tower any more. I could never go back to chasing the butterflies and falling from trees precisely as I had before, either. After that day, I glanced at the television screen once in a while to know what was going on in the elusive 'adult world' because I understood that it affected me too. (And sometimes, when the adults chatted, I lent an ear and some of my attention their way.)