Bronco, Mittens, Politics and Parenting - Why grown ups need to stop acting like children

I agree with Abigael. Seriously. I am so tired of all the political shit talking and dumbfuckery, it makes me want to cry too!

And although there are no tears at casa de Knepper, I have one freaked out little girl on my hands with regard to Bronco Bamma and Mittens.

Cate - MOOOOOOM! Who are you voting for?

Me - How come you want to know?

Cate - Because at school we are voting in the election and I need to know who to vote for. This is very important.

Me - Who do you want to vote for?

Cate - I have no idea, so why don’t you just tell me what to do?

Me - I can’t. But I can tell you that…….

And as I launched into what I intended to be a brief explanation of how I try to “vote the issues” by collecting as much information as possible about the people who represent my values on both the local and national level, her eyes glazed over and she dropped to her knees on the floor and started sweet talking the dog.

“Whoooooo is the cutest puppy in the world? It’s yoooooooou, Holly!”
End of discussion.

This scenario has played out repeatedly over the past few weeks, sometimes I manage to get one compete sentence out, other times I just tell her that I’m voting for Pedro, or that I feel a turd poking out and will discuss it after I poop, or I ask her if she wants to do a craft. The one thing I have been able to consistently communicate to her is that the right to vote is a sacred privilege, hard won for women, and that I cherish my rights and take the responsibility to learn about the issues and candidates very seriously.

Yesterday, when I told my friend Sheila about my daughter’s inquiries, she asked me a question that was fabulous fodder for discussion, especially because I would rather pound a sharp #2 pencil straight into my ear with a rubber mallet than to have a conversation about politics. Even with a person who I consider one of my closest and cherished friends. Sheila asked me this –

“Well, if you don’t talk with your kids about politics, how will they know who to vote for?”

Good point, mi Amiga. But I told her straight out that as far as my kids are concerned, my conversational focus is and will always be on the issues instead of the candidates. I want to them to focus on what unites us as a country and try to understand just how complex some of the issues really are.

Call it a coincidence, but when I came home yesterday afternoon, my daughter was in a panic. She wasn’t crying like sweet Abby from Colorado, but it’s fair to say that she was on the verge of tears and it wasn’t because she didn’t know who she would be “voting” for in the mock election at school. She was no longer undecided.

Cate - MOOOOOOM! Do you know who Aunt K and Uncle D are voting for?

Me - Nope.

Cate - Well, if they vote for Mittens Romney, they will be traitors to America.

Me - What th…who said..wait…ok. Now um…I…WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Cate - Mittens wants to steal money from the poor kids.

Me - Oh honey, if kids are poor, they don’t have money. How does a guy steal money from someone who has no money? Where did you hear this garbage?

Cate - R and A told me.

Me - Well, R and A are wrong. Mittens doesn’t want to steal from poor kids.

Cate - So you are voting for Mittens?

Me - That is not what I said. Do you really want to talk about this now, or are you going to run off as soon as I attempt to explain some things to you.

Cate - Mittens hates poor people and if you vote for him, you are a traitor to your country.

My husband is just sitting quiet and smiling and I’m thinking to myself that I wish he’d wipe that shit eating grin off his face and help me out, because he is rarely around when the hot topics come up and the kids fire off tough questions about complicated issues. I’m most often the one talking about penis and vagina, divorce, poverty, crime, blood, poo, anal sex and drugs.

I gave him the look. You know the one, the wide-eyed, pleading, holy shit will you help me here look? I added a bit of menacing eyebrow furrowing and a quiet hissing too. I couldn’t risk being subtle – I needed help and thankfully, he understood.

He told our daughter that saying Mittens wants to steal from the poor kids is like saying that Obama supports killing babies. Both statements are gross generalizations based on emotion and ignorance.

Cate - OBAMA KILLS BABIES?

Facepalm.

Me - No, he does not. But some people say that about him because he supports a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, and one of these choices is the decision to have an abortion. Remember how I explained abortion to you?

Cate - So Mittens hates the poor kids and Obama wants babies dead?

Me - NO!

I looked at the Hubs again. He shrugged. I shrugged. How were we going to get a third grader to wrap her inexperienced mind around the kind of issues most grown ups (including myself) can’t absorb without resorting to dumbfuckery filled emotionally charged half truths.

Cate - Something smells like pee. Did you pee your pants?

Me - No.

Cate - Oops - it was me. I think I peed a little in my pants while you we were talking.

Me - Go clean up then, okay? We are leaving in about 10 minutes.

Hubs - Wow. That was so funny I almost wet myself.

Me - I’d be willing to shit myself in order to avoid talking about this with her again.

Hubs - Well, look on the bright side - You will only have to crap yourself for a few more days. Election day is this Tuesday.

The Huffington Post featured the video of adorable Abby with the apology from NPR's Mark Memmot on Halloween - the ultimate of awesomeness for kiddos. Too bad the kids were too busy trick or treating to read it. But you can see it here. Yep, we owe our kids more than an apology. We owe them so much more. I'm sure there are many little Abbys and Cates out there, afraid, frustrated and confused, not knowing what to do with all the angry emotions and information spewing from their parents, caregivers, educators and the media.

Can you imagine what it must be like for them? Have you tried? Well, Abby and Cate are telling us what it's like and why we need to be calm, responsible, and careful with the hearts and minds of our children if we want to keep this country great. No matter who wins, the winner will be the Commander in Chief of this country and our kids need our help to feel safe and understand that the leader of the free world doesn't want to kill babies or steal money from the less fortunate.

I'm not really going to poop myself in order to avoid talking to my daughter about Bronco and Mittens, but I am going to do everything I can to avoid being the kind of grown up that has to apologize for not acting like one. I hope you will too.

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