Class elections: Taking a small step toward social action at just six years old

When did you hold your first elected position? I can’t remember when I did, but I think it wasn’t until high school. And, I know for a fact that it wasn’t when I was six years old.

Unfortunately, I can now say the same thing for my younger son. But, that’s not a bad thing. And, I’ll tell you why.

The hard decision to run (or not to run) in a class election

To me, my younger son has all the true personality traits of a second child – and a second son no less. He’s athletic, funny, and always working hard to find his own way to stand out in his the spotlight. But, as the second born, with a brother helping to lead the way in life, he’s not as confident, strong and secure as his big brother (at least at the ripe old age of six years old).

That’s why it wasn’t surprising that my younger son initially decided to not run for the elected position of class “delegate” last week.

You see, at my sons’ school, students have the opportunity to run for the elected position of class delegate starting in first grade - when children are ages five and six years old. A delegate is given the important role of being the class “spokesperson,” meeting with the principal, and setting a good example for the class - to name just a few of the responsibilities.

My older son jumped at the chance to run for class delegate when he was in first grade – even though he had started at the school less than six weeks before. But, that’s him. He is always up for a challenge and a good competition – even if the odds are against him. And, that's why he has run for class delegate every year. But, my younger son said a polite "no thank you."

My husband and I didn’t push.  We know our sons are different and that it’s important for them to find their own way in life. We accepted our younger son’s choice, and instead, focused on the role he'd play in voting for their class delegate, which is very important, too.

But, then something interesting happened.

One night, right before bedtime, my younger son complained that only girls were running for class delegate. And, with just two days left to submit your campaign poster, it looked like the class would only be able to choose a girl delegate versus having the chance to vote for a girl or a boy.

As anyone with a young child can tell you, this is a very big deal. And, for my younger son, it put him at an important crossroad in his young life.

You can only make a difference if you get involved

After hearing him tell me about this important "issue," I told my son that if he didn’t like things, he had to be the one to change things.

He could decide to run for class delegate, helping ensure his classmates would be able to vote for at least one boy.

And, that was it.

He excitedly declared that he was going to run for class delegate – and that he had to work on his campaign post right then and there.

For me, it was thrilling to see my younger son spurred toward social action – even if it just pertained to his classroom. It was one small step, but a step all the same. And, I hope the excitement of putting himself out there to make a difference will be something he does again and again throughout his whole life.

You don't have to win to be a winner

Of course, I wish I could tell you that he won. He didn’t. But, he put himself out there and he was still thrilled with the end result.

As it turned out, two other boys submitted their campaign posters right before the deadline. So, at least three other boys ran for class delegate. Both of the other boys ended up winning the election, with one becoming class delegate and the other being named as his alternate.

As it turned out, my younger son didn’t even vote for himself (which was legal and encouraged, by the way) – just those two other boys.

So, at the end of it all, he was happy.

He was happy for his friends. He was happy that he had the chance to vote for boys. And, he was happy he decided to put himself out there and run for delegate.

But, you know what? His older brother didn’t win when he was in first grade. Or, in second grade for that matter. But, this year, in third grade, he did it. He won and is now their class delegate.

As my younger son told me about the disappointing election results, he shrugged off the loss and looked ahead to the next election, saying he’d probably lose in second grade, too. But, then he'd win in third grade – just like his older brother.

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