Nathan has a habit of creeping out of bed in the evening, coming down to where Dave and I are watching TV. Usually we hear him and pause it so that he doesn't see or hear anything inappropriate, but there have been a couple of close calls.
With his anxiety and since he's prone to nightmares, I've tried to explain to him that the stuff that we watch at night can be scary but that it's all pretend. And I've tried to encourage him to call for us if there's a problem instead of coming down. (I think he likes trying to catch what we're watching, particularly since we watch a lot of superhero TV.)
Last night, Dave and I were watching the documentary 102 Minutes, which is amateur footage captured on 9/11 in New York. We waited until 9 to start it, which is usually late enough for Nathan to be asleep. The documentary itself was heartbreaking, bringing back the feelings of bewilderment and fear that we felt that day. (I remember feeling stupid about this but by mid-morning, I refused to turn the television off because it seemed like every time I did, something even more horrible would happen.)
The footage was graphic. There were people falling to their deaths. People waving out of windows desperately hoping to be rescued. There were recordings of 911 calls with operators telling people to stay where they were until rescue personnel could reach them. You could hear screams, you could hear children crying. They had recordings of radio calls from firefighters up on the higher levels from right before the buildings collapsed.
Nathan came down about halfway through. I heard him and paused, but I'm not sure what he saw or heard. We've told him about 9/11 (since it is referenced so often), but kept it very low key, that some bad people tried to scare everyone by hitting buildings with planes, that it was very scary but we learned how to make things safer. (I'll admit that I'm not entirely certain about that last part, but that's a parental lie I'm quite happy to get behind.)
I tried talking to Nathan to see what he'd seen but he didn't want to talk and I didn't want to make too big a deal about it. I took him back up to bed and he settled down to sleep. Hopefully, he didn't see much. And even if he did, he hopefully will assume it was an adventure program like we usually watch and not attach significance to it.