How We Party

I don’t really like talking politics.
In fact, I get sick of the talk pretty quickly. But there’s something about election season that keeps me glued to the action.
It’s like a train wreck – I can’t not look.
And somehow, my first election as a parent is different.
As passionate as I was in 2004, that passion has doubled. I argue the points with an added fervor, aware that future that’s in jeopardy isn’t just that of myself and my husband.
It’s my daughter’s future that’s too.
Ironically, I’ve tried as best as possible to remain mum on all things election around Jillian this year.
It’s not that I intend to hide political activism from her. To the contrary – I hope to raise a child who is politically aware, who develops strong opinions on the issues and is chomping at the bit on her 18th birthday to rush to the voter registrar’s office.
With a June birthday, she will be too late that year to vote on school budgets but in plenty of time for the November election.
But I’ve decided I won’t be raising a Democrat or a Republican. It’s not my choice to choose that for her really. As her parent, I plant ideas in her head. She runs with them.
It’s my ideas (and my husband’s) that I hope she’ll embrace. And I’m wary of outside influences making their mark.
Using the names – Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin – in public, she will hear responses. She will hear what people think. And at 3, she will repeat them not because it’s what is right but because 3-year-old’s are like mockingbirds.
Most people avoid talking politics with a 3-year-old. But when the words come pouring out of that same 3-year-old’s mouth, I’ve listened. People take notice. People take leave to say things they wouldn’t otherwise say to a toddler.
People brandish their opinions dangerously close to a line that I don’t want crossed with my child.
And so, at 3, I’ve steered clear of involving her in much more than what I’ve done since she was born, the walk into the voting machine.
I’ll let her help me pull the levers, as she’s done since she was big enough to wrap her hands around them.
And when we’re done, when it’s over, we will discuss what she did on election night with Mommy and Daddy.
We will discuss the reasons Mommy and Daddy are happy or the reasons we are frustrated.
We will tell her what we think and why. And we will answer the questions that come.
We won’t know what her future holds, but we’ll be preparing her all the same.

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