My two kids are amazing. The stuff they say just boggles my mind sometimes. I know every parent feels like their children are certified-Grade-A genius, but my two make me wonder how much longer I can remain near the top of the intellectual food chain in our house.
To wit: an out of the blue conversation between Ella and Jon, prompted by my asking them if they wanted to attend the Donald Trump rally that was held in Atlanta today.
Ella: “Ew. No.”
Jon: “Why is Donald Trump even here?”
Ella: “He’s probably causing trouble. He just makes me feel yucky. He’s gross.”
Jon: “He’s not a nice man.”
Ella: “No, he’s not, and I wouldn’t vote for him to be president.”
Jon: “I’m voting for Hillary because she’d be historical as president because she’s a girl. Trump would just be a mess.”
Ella: “Both would be a mess. I’m voting for Gary Johnson.”
Jon: “That’s a plan.”
Ella: “Daddy, can third parties win?”
Me: “We’ll see.”
Now, obviously we talk about politics around my house, and while I’m not keen on Mr. Trump’s presidential possibilities, I’m not exactly soft on Secretary Clinton, either. In fact, I tend to just dump on the entire presidential race as a whole, especially since this cycle seems to confirm that no matter who you vote for, you’re picking the crony of an oligarchy.
But that aside, I decided to ask my kids if their political opinions were the result of my jibber-jabber. Here’s what they said:
Ella: “No. We talk politics all the time at school. Everyone thinks Trump is a bully.”
Jon: “Yeah, he just yells so much and is mean to people. He’s not nice.”
Ella: “Some of my friends want to vote for Hillary Clinton, but I don’t think she’d be good either. She lied about her emails.”
Jon: “Who needs to lie about email?”
Ella: “Hillary Clinton.”
Jon: “But why?”
Ella: “To get elected, I guess.”
Jon: “Is Donald Trump lying?”
Ella: “I don’t know, but his hair is killing me.”
Me: “So you’re not just repeating what I say?”
Ella: “We have our own opinions daddy. But you told me about Gary Johnson, so that’s where I heard about him.”
Jon: “Who’s Gary Johnson?”
Me: “He’s the third party candidate.”
Jon: “What’s a third party?”
Me: “That means he’s not a Republican or a Democrat. He’s a Libertarian.”
Ella: “What’s a Libertarian?”
Me: “Someone who’s not a Republican or a Democrat.”
Ella: “Oh. So they make sense, then?”
Me: “In this election? As much as anyone else.”
I love the fact that my kids talk politics, if for no other reason than because they don’t have the same biases I do. They may hear things I say, or watch some of the news reports I watch, but they still process the information differently and independently of my approval. To me, that bodes well for their adulthood — they’ll need to be able to think for themselves in a world where mass acceptance of the party line (regardless of party) is expected.
I also love the fact that my son, who thinks his mother and sister hung the moon, wants to see Hillary Clinton elected because he assumes she’s not much different than them. I don’t intend to disabuse him of that notion because A) he’s seven; and B) he’s forming the opinion based on the evidence he has. And when Ella said she wouldn’t vote for Hillary, Jon’s face changed. I could see that her opinion carried weight, and I won’t be surprised if his perspective changes in future conversations.
With this election being so contested, so politicized, so extreme, it’s refreshing to hear the thoughts of people who haven’t made the walk of shame out of a voting booth. My kids believe their voice and their vote matters, and they’re learning to exercise both early. They can’t legally cast a ballot, but both walk around my house dead certain of who they are “voting for.” That’s awesome to me.
As we draw nearer to the election, I’ll sit down with them and share with them what I know about each candidate. We’ll continue to do research on their platforms and talk about their pros and cons because that’s how you teach a kid to become an informed voter.
(Funny story: Ella had me send an email back in the fall to every candidate, asking their position on school lunches; out of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Sanders, Kasich, and Clinton, only Clinton actually replied, and that was with boilerplate.
Ella was impressed to get a response, but not impressed with the substance of said response.
“She never answered my question,” Ella said. “That’s rude.”
I think that was what soured her on Madame Secretary.)
Long story short, I’m thinking about setting up a camera and just asking them to share their opinions on the presidential candidates. Then, I’d put the video up on YouTube. Based on what I’ve heard thus far this election season, theirs is the best political commentary around.