I’ll never forget the 2012 lead-up to the presidential election. We were on my sabbatical up in Ashland, Oregon, half listening to the presidential debate on TV. We didn’t think the boys were paying attention until Jake asked with sincere interest, “Are they talking about weapons again?” What I thought would sound like grown-up Charlie Brown gibberish to a little three-year-old was clear as a bell… probably cementing his budding interest in Weapons of Minor Destruction right then and there in that VRBO living room.
Years later, Jake still finds politics and daily news riveting. He requests it every morning on the way to school. He knows all about Trump’s plan to build a huge wall. He’s familiar with his grabbing of women’s private parts. His friends have been discussing the election at length on the playground. And he’s been firmly in “Harry Clinton’s” camp for months.
This election season has made quite an impression on the boys, even though I’ve stayed very far away from it. I’m not sure if its been the media circus or the negative campaign ads (they’re excited not to have to hear the messages from Donald Cheese Leg anymore… aka Dawn Ortiz-Legg). My hunch is that it was actually one kindergarten substitute teacher who convinced Nate’s entire class that, and I quote, “Donald Trump is evil.” I’ve tried to explain that very few people are truly evil, taking a more temperate approach to addressing the sensitive and emotionally charged arena of politics.
What I can say is that I am deeply grateful that my children have witnessed an African-American man and a woman in the only two presidential elections of their lives and have seen all loving couples with the ability to marry the one they love. Their realities of what is possible have been broadened and deepened far beyond what I observed in my childhood, and for this progress and possibility, I am thankful.
It’s a historical night tonight and as an uncanny reminder, James’ Apple watch reminded us, “It’s time to take a breath.”