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November 04, 2008

Happy Election Day!

Today is a big day for the over 18 set. We've got some votin' to do. But what about the kids? What's going through their heads today? When want to figure out where my kid's thoughts are heading, I hop in the driver's seat. Literally. Anytime I drive my older son's carpool I am privy to conversations I would not hear otherwise. Oh sure, there is the smack-talk about the teachers they dislike, the ribbing about professional sports but during these past couple of months the boys in my car have been discussing the election.

They've discussed the sign stealing that has been happening in their neighborhoods (ours were stolen not once, but twice!) the many robocalls which interrupt their dinners and who they hope will be our next president. Last week as I schlepped the crew to soccer practice, I heard my son pipe up with, "McCain was only a POW for two days." Even though I am not voting for McCain, I corrected the misinformation, "Actually, McCain was a POW for five and a half years." I explained to my tweenage carpool constituents, "Facts are important and people base their opinions upon what they believe to be true. I can disagree with the opinions, but the facts must be presented accurately regardless of who's "side" I am on. I will always make a correction if needed on any side of an issue. It's just how I roll."

Of course it wasn't as simple when the 8 year old announced at our dinner table last night that his friend Steve told him,"Obama wants to kill all the babies in a mommy's stomach." The Huz's eyes shot a look over to me as if to say, "Why don't you take this one. And while you do that? I'll go get an extra helping of turkey." Well, in his defense my husband knows I was once an Intern at Planned Parenthood and had to answer all sorts of questions related to reproductive health. My favorite being this conversation:

Me: Hi, Planned Parenthood Question Line, may I help you?

Caller: Um. Yeah. I took my Pill the day before yesterday and I took it today. I forgot to take it yesterday tho. Am I gonna get pregnant?

Me: I don't know, but what I do know is you need to take today's Pill right now and use a back-up method for the rest of the month.

Caller: (after a bit of a silence) Do you mean doggy style?

Me: Doggy style? No. Actually I was referring to an additional form of birth control, such as a condom, but there's no reason you couldn't do both.

Rather than talking about when life begins, what Steve's parents believe, what we believe or anything else which is way above an 8 year old's head, I chose another path, "You know, that sounds like something Steve overheard an adult say and he repeated it to you. It's hard for me to know what that grown up meant. All I can tell you is what I think, and that is neither of the candidates want to kill anyone. I believe they both want to make the world a safer place for all of us."

I know there are those who will think the direction I chose to take was a cop out, but my reason for going that way is my son and Steve are good friends and if their friendship ever stops it should be due to a kid reason, not an adult one. Today I took my kids with me to the polls. On the way there I told them about a time not too long ago when Black people weren't allowed to vote in the United States and when the laws were changed and Black people then had the same rights as everyone else, their own grandmother had gone to Alabama to help with voter registration. I spoke to them about how their dad, and the many moms and dads before him, protected our freedom to vote and it is this freedom which is far more important and long lasting than any individual candidate I will ever vote for.

Whomever your candidate, whichever your choice, let's all celebrate Election Day together!

Cross-posted from Devra's personal blog Parentopia.


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