Sunday, November 2, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes. . .Kids and Politics. . .

My son’s political t-shirt arrived in the mail last week, announcing who he wanted for president.

Never mind that he’s 11-years- old and cannot vote for seven years.

He’s worn it every day since its arrival. At least my son makes sure it gets into the washer every day (or two).

At Bingo night at my kids’ school, a few moms came up to me who had seen my son wearing his t-shirt and said, “Good for Micki. That is so bold.”

A recent YouTube entry from Ron Clark Academy illustrates how bold and fun kids can be about politics -

But, I am the chicken. . .

As an adult I have been tamed by the realization that you have to be careful of partisan politics as they have become so divisive. In some cases, friendships have been severed. But, refreshingly, for kids it’s just another day at school.

Like asking which baseball team you are cheering on. It’s a playful nod to your favorite team then you move on.

A friend of mine said she was listening to her 10-year-old son’s conversation with another 10-year-old while carpooling to sports practice.

The conversation went something like this: “So, who are you voting for?”

“McCain,” one says.

“Don’t you want change?” the other says, and this mom friend of mine is listening and just cracking up inside.

The next minute the kids are talking about the upcoming game they will have on the weekend and homework that is due the next day and setting up a time to play after school.

I recently chaperoned a field trip for my fifth grade son and the boys were playing on their Nintendo DS’s and somehow they were messaging each other on these DS’s as to which candidate they wanted.

It was “NoCain” then “NoBama” and my son was hiding from me what he was doing, and when I finally figured it out, I chuckled inside, and just laughed and said, “Make sure it is nice comments.” The kids were fine about it all.

A month ago, my grade school children put a presidential bumper sticker on my husband’s car. The bumper sticker was given to them by their cousins. Neither my husband nor I really wanted it there, but our kids were so excited about it we did not have the heart to take it off.

But, I confess, I park backwards in our driveway so no one can see the bumper sticker. Do I sound like a coward, or what? It goes back to having some negative experiences in my past, so I am avoiding them right now.

However, in high school, I was bold to stand up for a candidate who was not very popular in the polls – or in the school hallways -- but ended up winning the presidency, and years later he is a respected president. Though I got flack for it back then, I stood my ground, along with one other friend of mine.

That is why I find my son’s innocent campaigning for a candidate quite refreshing. Seeing a child stick up for something they believe in is fun, as long as they are aware they need to do it respectfully.

Maybe we could learn from our children’s simplicity, and be able to state our opinions about political topics, then have a play date the following day.


Fantastic Forrest said...

I wish all the comments were so innocent. My son was extremely depressed at the hatred some of his schoolmates voiced after the election. He heard statements like "He doesn't belong there, it's the WHITE House," and "It doesn't matter that he won because someone will kill him and then we'll get a decent president."

Civility is an endangered species. Actually, I'd say respect for humanity is endangered. :(

Cornelia Becker Seigneur said...

wow, Holly, that is so sad - how did you handle this? I heard of another girl who was called a racist for wearing a McCain t-shirt, a 12 year old said this to a 12 year old. You know these kids from both sides must be hearing these things from their parents which makes it even worse. Hopefully kids can think for themselves. My parents, once republicans, were against the war before it was cool to be against th war and they instilled in u s a thinking for ourselves mentality for which I am grateful. My inlaws are dems and voted for Bush senior but now for refreshhing, to be able to think outside our party line. I believe now that no matter how people voted, we need to support our president...and as you say, have respect for humanity...


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