Ticking Off

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Do you know what is more annoying than listening to politicians say and do stupid stuff? It is listening all day to people talking about politicians saying and doing stupid stuff.

But do you know what is even worse than that?

Having your five and six year old tell you about all of the stuff that people are saying about the politicians who are saying and doing stupid things.

For instance:

“Mommy, are you voting for Trump?” My son was looking up at me earnestly.

“Why are you asking?”  I was surprised he even know the name and was wary of a trap.

“Because Mr. Trump says mean things about women. You’re a woman, mommy. You can’t vote for him!” Actual tears were welling up in his eyes.

“Who told you this?”

“Elani, from school.”

“So you think I should vote for Hillary Clinton?”

“Yes!”

My daughter chimed in, “No, you can’t vote for her. Victoria, says she killed a bunch of people.”

Let’s stop for a moment, shall we?

I have tried to instill in them pride and excitement over the election process. I usually take them to go vote with me. We talk about types of races and elections and positions and why I am voting for this person or against that proposition. I don’t want them to feel disenfranchised from the process later as adults. But this presidential election I have purposely not discussed with them at all. 

“Mommy, Hillary Clinton stole a bunch of money!”

“Did you know that Donald Trump is a loser?”

Clearly, I have been remiss. I mistakenly thought I could shelter them from all of the ugliness. Kids hear and absorb what the adults in their lives are saying. All of this negativity is trickling down and the kids are having political discussions at summer camp. I had not started the discussion for my own kids and now what their peers have to say has become their reality. 

So I sat my kids down and explained that sometimes when people want something very, very badly they say mean things and tell lies and try to hurt the other person so they can win. 

My son’s voice caught and he asked, “Mommy, why would they do that?” 

I don’t know.

But I still have to come up with some sort of answer. I’m the adult here, after all. “I don’t know,” is just not going to fly. 

“Because they are afraid of losing their power.”

“Well, I don’t want to vote for either of them, then.” 

Before it was over with, they were both crying, upset that Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton would be mean to each other for “no reason”. 

My first reaction was to sigh and think, Really, aren’t they old enough to NOT be crying about something like this? 

Then I had flashbacks to last Tuesday when my son punched my daughter in the arm and screamed irrational, ugly things at her because she was beating him at Connect Four.

But then I realized that they just don’t get the concept of winning at all costs when it involves other people. It is part of the narcissism of childhood, that stage that some people just never grow out of. When it is them, they don’t quite get that what they are doing is wrong. 

It is all about ME and what I want!

But when it is someone else, they feel the wrongness acutely. They don’t recognize that their motivation is coming from the same place as everyone else’s.

I am glad that they are not jaded enough about life just yet to take the political behavior in stride as par for the course. I am very glad that it bothers them, the unfairness of it all. But I also know that “innocence” is not going to last much longer and it will become harder and harder to teach them love and joy and peace and kindness.

But I will do my best.

There are already enough grown ups in this world who behave badly. We don’t need to add any more to the mix. 

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68 thoughts on “Ticking Off

  1. I would not like to be a voter in the USA. It’s a choice between a rock and a hard place. It’s bad enough over here, but at least we have more than two options (and I didn’t vote for the current lot, the one before, or the one before that).

    Liked by 3 people

  2. When my niece and her daughter, my 10-year old great niece/goddaughter were here visiting recently, we found a place mat in the gift shop at the Jefferson Memorial. It had pictures of all the presidents on one side, and all the first ladies on the other. Olivia looked at me and her mom and proudly said: “Maybe one day soon the same face will be on both sides!” Then she went home and her best friend told O that their family was voting for Trump because Hillary Clinton murders people.

    I’m with you. How the hell can people tell their children something like that?

    I think you handled it quite well.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. That’s a tough one – even though I totally agree that no matter the hard questions, the more children can understand the better off they are. Soon will come the discussion of the fact that regardless of how bad the choices are,that not voting is,in fact a vote against democracy. Or wait until you have to explain to them that the law is not about justice or fairness. Ha! You have lots of fun ahead Victo. May the force be with you. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

  4. While I understand parental pangs about lost innocence, I think having children who are aware of the world in which they live is preferable to the obliviousness of many adults who will go the the polls in November without any real awareness of the issues. Surely young children won’t have a complete grasp of every back-and-forth during this bitter presidential race,but I think it’s positive that they have an interest. It’s easy for me to say because my own children are grown and capable of making their own decisions, but I think if I had it to do all over again, I would impress upon them that despite all the misinformation that’s out there, it IS still possible for adults to dig more deeply into the issues, and that it is still possible to find properly sourced and credible information if one cares to look. It’s a tricky world, and with the demise of traditional media, is getting tricker all the time. Even young children need to know — for their own good and for the good of worried parents — that everything is not as it appears. In the same sense that children need to know not to get into a car with a stranger, they should be taught not to believe everything they read or hear from dodgy sources. With the proper education that you continue to provide, I’m sure you will one day have two capable and well-informed additions to the electorate some day, who will be more a credit to their country than many Fox News-watching adult I could name.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We did also touch on responsible voting, that just because so and so says something does not mean it is right. I think in my heart of hearts I wanted to believe that the next election cycle would be better but when has it ever been better? So, I will have to redouble my efforts! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And what I should have said was “It says something horrible about our politics when grownups in powerful roles do not take responsibility for how the things they say affect both adult voters and our children. Because they darned well know, but do it anyway. We should hold politicians to a higher standard, not a lower one.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My son, when we were visiting in the US, saw some pro-Trump signs and whispered to me in horror…”Mom, there are Republicans around here…” like the boogey man. And I realised in that moment that I had failed to be fair, to talk about people having different views on the way things worked. It led to a really in-depth discussion about politics and opinion (he’s 12). That said….this year, this election, this particular candidate–my conscience will not allow me to say that I understand or condone those differences. I left it at people have different views and we have to respect those WHILE respecting the lives of everyone no matter what color or sex or who they love.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad you sat your kids down and had “The Talk” with them. Now that they know where politicians come from, perhaps they will be encouraged to engage in safe political intercourse when discussing politics with their peers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No matter what you do, you can’t effectively protect your children from everything. We had some neighbors who tried that by burying them in a Christian school (this is not a criticism of the school, of Christianity, or of the parents) and keeping them close to home when not at school. The daughters were ill prepared for the raw edges of life. One has been lost to drugs. One has a baby, but no husband, and is “between homes.” And, the parents are divorced.

    We elected education as a mechanism for protecting the children—let them see the raw edges but help them learn to protect themselves. They are in their forties now, and we are happy with the results.

    One thing children have to learn about is politics. Politics is not something to shield children from. Following what is going on is a duty. If you don’t vote, you are not allowed to complain about the results—at least, not in our house.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m thrilled that you “have tried to instill in them pride and excitement over the election process”. I wish explaining the elections and candidates were explained by all parents. I commend you.

    I’m actually excited this election year. That’s all I’ll say. though, so I don’t turn this thread into a political debate. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve often wondered how children view what has gone in around them during this last year or so. They listen when we don’t think they are and firm opinions with their friends based on I don’t know what. I think it’s great that you had the kind of conversation you had with them. Sometimes I think they should be the ones running for office. The choices would be infinitely better than they are right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not American but I’ll be glad when that wicked campaigne is over with. I don’t get involved with the political talk really at all. People love to hate and I often wonder why they allow it to take so much of their energy. I also figure a person could be the best candidate in the world and there would still be haters. It’s just not worth the energy it takes. Having said that, I do know some awareness is needed. What a tough thing to teach children since the Political world has never grown up. Sigh..

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My children are distancing themselves from classmates who’ve been ‘friends’ over politics. It’s an interesting dynamic. I keep trying to tell them that it’s okay to love people who think differently. I’ve even given them examples in my own life. They don’t think it’s okay. I don’t see why it’s any different than any other preference. I’m extremely political, but this is all them. It makes me sad.
    But, then, I remember when one was smaller, she thought the gay people were just weird, so over time…with more experiences…with more exposure…
    I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a delightfully engaging post, Victo! All I can say, what I would say to such children, is we must continue to examine all our options. While it may seem futile, the truth is Americans are not restricted to only the two most popular, most vocal candidates from the two largest parties. Change must happen. That’s as political as I get. You sound like a marvelous parent. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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