Your Children Are Listening

your children are listening

Photo credit to Gage Skidmore

We are screwing this up, y’all.

A few weeks ago, I took the boys out for wings to celebrate surviving the first week of school.  Once my newly minted third grader had coated approximately 87% of his person in sauce, he became a chatty treasure trove of information.  After four solid days of interrogation, chicken wings bought and purchased all the details on the first week of class.

I did not like a lot of what I heard.  And it’s our own fault, fellow grownups.

My son’s voice shook as he was telling me about a conversation he wanted clarification on.  He led with a shaky, “I’m kind of scared to ask you this.”  I gritted my teeth, prayed it wasn’t one of those questions, and told him to lay it on me.  He teared up and said, “Donald Trump kills babies.  What will happen if he wins the election, mom?  Do you think he will kill my brother or is he too old? Why would he kill babies?”

MY THIRD GRADER THINKS THAT DONALD TRUMP MIGHT MURDER HIS LITTLE BROTHER IF HE WINS THE PRESIDENCY.

We have officially lost our collective minds, y’all.  How numb has society become when you can say that Trump kills babies within earshot of an EIGHT YEAR OLD?  It didn’t stop there.  He asked me about Trump “blowing other countries off the map just for fun”, and WHAT IF HE BLOWS THE WHOLE WORLD UP, MOM!?!.  Adult diatribes full of sarcasm and bitterness tripped off his tongue and landed in the middle of our table.  Did you know that people who vote for Trump (their children included) are “a bunch of idiots”?  So are the ones who vote for Clinton, in case you thought the argument at school was one sided.

My son’s class did a project last May and he choose to decorate his with a ridiculous comic about Trump.  Granted, it made no sense, but I still found that VERY odd.  Especially considering our circumstances.  Thanks to his severe anxiety and several epic fails when he was very young, we don’t watch the news in front of him.  We do not talk about politics in front of him.  Once he gets an image or thought in his head, he can’t get rid of it.  So we rolled him up in bubble wrap and protected him from all the things.  Which is proof that I’m one buttered roll short of a chicken dinner myself, people.  I clearly should have taken him out of the cocoon a long time ago, but I was too busy burying my face in the sand.  If people are going to spew hatred and anger out of the microphone of their children’s innocent mouths, then I’ll need to get in there first.  For the love, y’all.

I’m not going to play saint here.  This election is a TRAIN WRECK of suck.  I brace myself every time I open Facebook – the whole place is a hate explosion.  At night, I rail at my husband about all the stupid while pacing in front of him – flailing my hands around and leaving a trail of Skinny Pop in my wake.  (I’m the hot head in our family.  Bless my heart.)  We have all kinds of conversations together in private where I trash talk and lose my temper about the candidates.

THIS is what I said to my child:

We live in the best country in the world.  We are blessed that brave soldiers lost their lives so that we may be free.  Free to have our own views and opinions.  Free to express them. Free to vote for who we want.  When it’s time for an election, the candidates will tell the American people about their beliefs and how they would run the country.  Then we get to decide who will run our government by voting.  People will always disagree and as you get older, you may find that even your closest friends will have differing views than you do.  That’s okay.  We aren’t supposed to agree about everything.  The mark of a good man is one who shows respect, even when others around you don’t.  One who knows how to disagree politely and without malice.  One who can make an educated and insightful argument without belittling people.  It’s hard, but it’s important.

THIS is what I promise to do going forward

I’ll teach him about the democratic process, the party system, and how it all works.  I’ll share our views with him when he asks, and I will do so with a kind voice.  I’ll explain why we feel the way we do while doing my very best not to speak negatively about those who disagree.

Right now, at his tender age of nine, I want my little boy to learn the big picture.  I want him to see the words “President of the United States of America” and have his heart swell with pride for both the role and and our great nation.  I want him to respect the position, learn how incredibly hard the job is and why it’s a selfless act to run our country.  He’s got plenty of time to learn about politicians and social media debates and “them” and “we”.  I don’t think it’s naive to expect parents to temper their words in front of little ones.  It should be a given that while we may dislike a candidate, we don’t utter phrases like “Trump is a baby killer” within earshot of a third grader.  Call me crazy, y’all.

We are human.  We slip up.  We aren’t perfect.  We say things we shouldn’t.

We can do better than this.

Let’s decide now, TOGETHER, that we won’t let a couple of people running for President push us to the point that we poison our own children.  They still have a few years left before they have to be subjected to all the hateful realities of adulthood.  There is a lifetime to be jaded.  It doesn’t have to start now.