Politics and Playgrounds
This was the first election that I had children in school during the campaign season. During the 2008 presidential election, I had a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old, and was in my 3rd trimester with Reagan. And even as physically exhausting as that time period was, it was infinitely less stressful.
This election Devyn has been more aware of the election process. From repeating political tv ads to asking questions to forming opinions of her own; its been a thoroughly fascinating process. But through it all, I’ve been convicted of one thing. No matter my political opinion or beliefs, my 7-year-old does not need to be burdened with such an adult responsibility. I’ve answered the questions asked, I’ve watered down opinions, and I’ve encouraged a difference of opinion.
For the very reason that I wanted to avoid what happened on Devyn’s playground on election day.
A friend asked her who her parents were voting for and after Devyn shared what she believed was an innocent response (as it should have been), the friend retorted, “Your parents are stupid.” Devyn didn’t come home in tears, but more out of confusion. And as she retold the story, my heart broke. The polarizing game of politics had indeed reached the playground.
Throughout this election campaign, my heart has been burdened. Friends were no longer speaking to each other, words were used as weapons, and a difference of opinion meant that families were split. To be for one, meant you were against another. It became an all or nothing, war of words. It was ugly.
Yet, folks were shocked that America was so polarized. Really? Just one look at my Facebook or Twitter feed, and it was obvious WHY it was polarized. No one wanted to admit that either side could be a tiny bit right, on any issue. The biggest travesty for me this election season, was not that my candidate didn’t win, but that children are now carrying adult conversations and opinions to school.
I don’t know about you, but I strongly believe that children should not be shouldering the political views of adults. They should be learning to share the swings, daydreaming about fairies, and learning their time tables. They should not be creating us vs. them mentalities in grade school, but instead learning to work together and problem solve word problems.
These children, the ones who skip through the play yard and swing on the monkey bars, are our future. It’ll be up to them to overcome differences and solve the very real problems that our current government is facing. And if I want my children to be open to new ideas and be willing to work with others who don’t agree with them, then its going to have to start in the home. Its MY responsibility to teach grace, love, and tolerance. Its MY responsibility to teach them that the ads they see and hear on tv are NOT indicative of the human race, that one side isn’t better than the other. Its MY responsibility to see that my children carry on the belief that everyone is just doing the best they can.
I answered Devyn’s questioning look of whether her parents were stupid or not. “Mommy and Daddy voted for the guy they thought would make the better president. Others voted for the other guy because they think he’ll do a better job. Neither is right, neither is wrong; we just believe different things for different reasons.”
It’s a shame that my 7-year-old had to learn that lesson at such a young age. Please. I ask you, I beg of you, to be aware of what’s being said in your home. Remember that little eyes are watching, little ears are hearing, and its being repeated at school. I have high hopes that future generations may someday bridge such a wide gap between the parties, but we have to do our part and it starts at home.