Vote. Your Kids Are Watching

Originally posted Feb. 5, 2008

I’ve brought mine twice. The first time, eight years ago, Noah was just a one-year-old. A new walker, holding him was a joke. He ran around the school gymnasium serving as our district’s polling place, amusing some very good-natured folks who waited patiently in a line that snaked around the school. When it was our turn to vote, he squirmed in my left arm while I did my best to focus and flip the levers with my free hand.

Four years later and oh, so much smarter, I had Holly buckled into her stroller with a toy. A big boy, Noah peppered me with questions: “What’s the curtain for, Mommy?” “Why do we vote?” And “Can I have that donut?” That white-powdered donut, offered by a very kind poll watcher, saved my life – for about a minute – then it was our turn behind the curtain and Holly had a melt-down. I tried to pretend it was a hide-and-go-seek game, but she wasn’t buying. By then five, though, Noah was very curious about the process. He even shouted out the name of the guy who got Mommy’s vote. Negotiating two in the voting booth was hell, but I managed. I voted. My husband had risen early that day (never my cup of tea) to vote before his thirty-minute commute to work, or we’d have taken turns.

Our kids are in school these days, so Todd and I took the opportunity to cast our primary votes early, with no hangers-on. Bliss! I got to take my time and read everything carefully, before casting my ballot.

But you know what? I missed the kids and all of their questions!

I love explaining stuff to them. I’m consumed with channel-surfing between several television news programs for the latest coverage of the ever-evolving political landscape, in an effort to make some sense of it all for myself, and find myself feeling better than ever about my choice this time around. The kids are even paying attention.

“We have all white presidents,” Holly observed a few days ago. “I want a black president. And I want a girl president,” she added, wondering if two could share the job. “He’s kind of brownish, actually,” she continued, her brow furrowed. Seems she was confused by the use of the word “black”by televisionnewsannouncers discussingBarack Obama. That confuses me, too, I told her.

This isn’t the first time Holly and I have talked politics. Last year, after we watched news of the last mid-term election results, Holly made an announcement:

“I want to be the girl President.” Five at the time, she already had a plan:

“How ’bout I tell people to ‘Vote for Holly’? I could pass out signs,” she shrugged.

“What would you do if you were the President?” I asked.

“I’d tell people what to do: eat good vegetables, listen to your parents, do your work, go to school every day, be nice to other people.” She’s got my vote.

Now get out there and cast yours. It’s no picnic bringing the kids along, but it’s well-worth the effort. Give it a whirl. Let them see you doing your civic duty and enjoying the privilege of having your say. Next time I get the chance, this November, I will, too. I can’t wait.

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