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November 7, 2012

Early Involvement in the Democratic Process

[I intended to post this yesterday, but I didn’t get my usual computer time.  (We had a glorious family breakfast out, instead!)  Please pardon the verb tenses!]

I’ve been talking to the girls for the last few weeks about the upcoming election.  I know it’s far too big of a concept for them to really grasp, but I’ve done my best to give them an understanding of our government at a three-year old level.

The girls know that we’ll be voting for the office of president.  We are going to vote because we hope that President Obama can still be the president,” they say.

We’ve talked on a very, very elementary level about some of the policies that are important to us.

I told the girls that a person’s vote is very important, but also very private.  We are very proud of our viewpoint, but we respect that other people may make different choices, and that is OK.

I may have taught them to chant “O-BA-MA!  O-BA-MA!” though…which Hubby fears will get us kicked out of this conservative part of the country.  HA!

The girls have already experienced some disillusionment, though.

The girls’ first disappointment came when they started talking about meeting President Obama.  I realized they thought he would be at the polling station.  When I told them we wouldn’t actually see him, they didn’t quite understand.  Well where will he be?  I told them he would probably be in Chicago.  Well, can we go there?

I figured that Baby A could go into the booth with me, and B with Daddy, and I told them that they could press the button for the president.

The girls were looking forward to their adventure.  B was talking through the order of events yesterday.  Mommy will vote, then Daddy, then Sissy, then me.”

I then realized I hadn’t fully explained that you have to be 18 years old to vote.  When I shared that with the girls, my tender-hearted Baby B’s chin started to tremble.  She thought she would get to vote, too!

(Of course I have to interject that our girls are probably as well-educated about the issues as some 18-year olds.  I think they make pretty sound decisions, actually!)  ;)

Despite the couple of misunderstandings, the girls were tickled to go vote yesterday morning.  Unfortunately we had paper ballots, so there were no buttons to press, but Baby A picked out Obama’s name, and she scribbled in the box beside his name.

Both girls fed our ballots into the scanner, and they were super proud of their “I Voted” stickers.  They came home and put them on the refrigerator.

Why do you still have your sticker?” they asked me later in the day.  I talked to them about it being our civic duty to educate ourselves on the issues and vote for what we believe in.  I tried to underscore it’s something to be proud of.

And last night they asked when we would know if President Obama would still be our president.  I told them it would be after they were in bed, and they were OK with that.  (Mama, on the other hand, had a very late night…not content to go to bed until it was official.)

And this morning when the girls got up, I told them, “Guess what happened last night, baby girls?  President Obama!” they exclaimed.

My guess is that their understanding today is no greater than it was a week ago, but I love having involved them in the election process. 

Not just in this exercise, but every day, my hope is that I’m raising my girls to have curious minds…who will learn to think for themselves…and who will ACT with confidence and grace to impact their environments.


Carrie said...

That's super adorable! Our girls were super excited to vote at preschool yesterday and were very proud they voted for Obama. They were also disappointed that they were only "practicing" voting and I got to do the real thing. They also assumed that after they cast their ballot, Obama was immediately declared the winner! (I'm so relieved that after a late night, that is definitely the case!!) Evie said she is going to BE President Obama some day. Wouldn't that be great!?!!

Amanda said...

Good job Mama! I didn't think about letting the girls push a button. I probably wouldn't have though because one time when we were in Reno having a family breakfast at an old casino, my nephew who was about 3 at the time reached up and pushed a button on a slot machine. There wasn't even any money in the machine, he was just being 3 and we were waiting in line to be seated. Security literally swooped down and kicked us out for letting an underage minor gamble. Yeah... so I would have thought they'd flip out having a kid close to a polling machine! LOL...

But I too, wanted to make sure my kids came with me to vote. My mom never took me to the polls so it was a very, very intimidating process for my first time to vote. I want to make it much more accessible for my kids.

championm2000 said...

How awesome! I love to see parents involving their children from an early age--regardless of political viewpoint. To me, an informed vote is never a wrong vote regardless of whom a person chooses.

We've taken Emily and Andrew to every election since they were born. They vote for STICKERS!

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

So cute! When I took Vivi with me to vote in '08 she was convinced that Obama lived at the neighborhood fire house where we voted. For years, it was known as "Obama's house." This summer, we got to see his real house which was a huge treat for her.

Beth said...

Cute. I have discussed our politics with the kids. I'm proud that they really want to know about what is going on, but recently Will has decided that he would like to be president one day. Of course I told him that he could count on my vote, but I have to say that I kind of hope none of my kids go into politics. Think about how tense you were last night. Now imagine one of your girls was the candidate. I'm pretty sure I would have a stroke. Then the other candidate would make a negative ad about my sweet baby and I would need to be restrained... There's nothing wrong with my kids growing up to be nice accountants or something ;-)

MultipleMum said...

Give me an O. Give me a B.
Great result and excellent training of your girls. As always :-) x

Johanna at The Baker Twins said...

Mine don't really get it yet either. But, I think that a child who grows up knowing the importance of voting will be an active voter when they grow up! Good job!!!

Just Another Mom of Twins said...

I think that is awesome that you are teaching politics early and the importance of voting and such. It was always a family affair when I was young and once I turned dinner out and then off to the polls. I need to start gaining a better "grasp" on Canadian and world politics before having that conversation with the've inspired me!

Deanna said...

It was fun to take my girls this time too. I let each of them help me draw a line--with a lot of direction from me, as I am perhaps a little unreasonably fearful of messing up my ballot. : )

Addison has been sick this week and napped from 4-7 on Tuesday. Since she was having trouble going to sleep, she was up with me when Obama was declared the winner. It was pretty special to share that moment with her!

(I loved your comment on Marcia's blog from yesterday, by the way. I basically commented a big, fat "ditto". I had no idea we had THAT much in common, politically speaking!)

Louisa said...

That's super cute!

When we vote here it means hanging out in queues for hours (last one was about 4 hours!). In the past they used to let pregnant people and people with small children go through faster but some abused it so no there's none of that anymore.

Usually we go together with my parents and then we make turns staying outside with Nicola while the others vote.