Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Starting 'em Young

(Disclaimer: this was mostly written last night, but wasn't posted until today, so -- please just roll with me on the today/tomorrow stuff?)

K went into her first voting booth at six weeks old. She endures, mostly without complaint, how I squeeze her a little tighter when a particularly cringe-worthy political sound bite hits our ears -- or whenever we're in a waiting room where the television is tuned to Fox News. (I want to believe that if I hold her tight enough, we'll form some sort of a magic barrier between her and whatever hateful/fearful/xenophobic/etc propaganda is being spewed at her from the speakers. That's how it works, right?) She stood by patiently as her phone-phobic mother worked up the guts to actually call her representatives when some semblance of the health care bill was working its way through, and she refrained from crying or demanding attention until the phone had been hung up. In a few hours (I'm writing this late at night -- ah, motherhood) I'll be dragging K out of bed early so that she can go vote with me before it's time for daycare. I could (and probably should, actually) let her sleep in a little longer and just hit the library to vote after I drop her off at her care provider's house. Without the toddler distractions I'd probably be more focused, and the absence of a toddler eliminates the possibility of one of those epic toddler meltdowns occurring in the relatively sacred (and quiet) space of the voting booth. Unfortunately for my fellow voters, it's not gonna happen.

She's coming with me to vote, whether she's being a crankpants or not. I know that at 25 months old it's really, really unlikely that she'll remember this at all -- and of course she won't remember the first time she "voted," but I feel that it's important to have her with me, and to be able to tell her later that she was there. I remember the thrill of going into the voting booth with my parents when I was little. They took my sister and me every year and we each got to pick a parent to accompany behind the curtain. When we were little-little we didn't know what we were really voting for (beyond the basics -- they'd explain that pulling the lever here meant we were voting to give money to our school, or the zoo, or whatever -- ballot initiatives that kindergartners can kind of grasp) but I knew from the beginning that what we were doing was special, and important, and -- hey, you get a sticker at the end!

I want K to grow up in a house where being an (at least semi-) involved participant in the political process is the norm. I don't want her to take anything for granted. I want her to know how things work, and why. We'll probably save the 19th amendment lesson for next year (with a feminist mom and a historian dad, she's going to get lessons, oh yes!) but we've got to start somewhere.

Anyway, sleeping K: rest up. Tomorrow is a big day.


  1. I love you for this.

    I took Boo with me to vote today out of necessity. Erik's at work and this morning was the only time I had the opportunity to go and vote. HOWEVER, even if Erik and I were able to go without the kidlet along, I wouldn't want to. Like you, I think it's important to be there. Today, sitting at my little cubby, Boo sat on my lap and I told him that the last time I voted, he was with me as well, only inside instead of out. He grasped his own pen (capped) and helped me fill out the ballot. Later, he gets to go with daddy and do it all again.

    It's important to actually teach the kids what you want and to instill values that are actually important. Thank you for tackling that on your end, and I'll try to hold it up on mine.

  2. Thanks, T :)

    At this rate, he's going to be an old pro by the time he hits preschool! Did he wear his punky hair to the polling place?


  3. Nah, no punk hair. ;) He didn't even bring his punk attitude with. He was good for me and good for his daddy. Sometimes he can really show how sweet he is. Haha.

  4. So important! Regardless of what anyone's political views are, knowing how valuable it is to participate in our government is paramount.


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