Sunday, November 09, 2008

Of politics and preschool

Ittybit didn't like our selection at the polls. She didn't want to vote for "Rock the Bama" on Election Day.

And just knowing that drove me crazy.

Sure, she really doesn't have an understanding of politics as it applies to the presidency and she couldn't legally vote even if she did. But it's not as if she doesn't comprehend politics in general.

Like all children, she fully understands that positioning herself a certain way can affect a desired change. For instance, she knows that if she asks politely she can have Halloween candy after breakfast. She also knows that if she asks the right people (Amah and Papa) she can have cookies BEFORE dinner.

Yet when we talked about voting for Barack Obama and she became a four-foot wall of protest, I was at a loss.

She didn't want to vote for "Rock the Bama," she told me, because she didn't like his name.

I'm not sure what came over me, but I immediately went on the stump as if I were Move On Dot Org and she were the choir.

"Well, of course we're voting for Barack Obama. Disliking his name IS NOT an acceptable reason to disqualify him," I responded, reeling with the vision of my own daughter one day lambasting her parents to Rush Limbaugh for once - way back before the primaries -- putting an Obama pin on her pint-sized t-shirt.

I felt a twinge of guilt. Had the weight of that metal button tipped the balance toward rebellion already?

I launched into lectures of all the reasons her father and I wanted this man in office. I spoke to my four-year-old audience in much the same way I've spoken to friends: I spoke about decency and fairness and ideology and change. I talked about beliefs and goals and ideals. I even spoke about passion: "He gives me hope, and I think hope is what we need."

She was not swayed.

"I just want Yaya," she said, invoking the name of her beloved babysitter.

"You told me we could write-in a name," she argued after she left the booth with her father, having just pulled a lever on the top row. "I didn't see any pens."

I laughed, still feeling unsettled knowing that I, in my zealous liberal way, am probably destined to raise ultra conservative children who will likely cancel my vote starting in 2024.

"When you're 18 you can vote for whomever you like," I tell her, adding that maybe it would be a good idea for her to have her own voting booth made of cardboard and decorated with stickers so she can practice. "You can campaign for Yaya, or Mickey Mouse or Pluto if you like."

"Well, I've changed my mind. I think it's time for change, too. I'm voting for Minnie Mouse. She's the one for me. After that I'll vote for Rock the Bama."

Maybe she understands more than I thought.

Maybe she understands, in her own way, that we are probably more alike than we realize. No matter who we voted for, in the end, we are all Americans. Maybe from now until Inauguration Day parents around the country should start reading the book, "Everyone Poops," at bedtime as a simple reminder of that fact.

Perhaps we all should.

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