I started to wonder last night whether or not my dad's belief about living in this great country was adopted to calm his children. We turned on the news around 8 PM and watched John McCain's speech and my boys started to get a little upset. They began to repeat things they had heard people say about how now terrorists were going to be allowed to take over the country and one of them demanded, "How can we elect a person who doesn't even have a birth certificate?" So then i gave them the, "Aren't we blessed to live in a land where the outcome of an election doesn't start a war?" that my dad gave me.
At first, i attributed their worry to having ridden to the football game last Saturday with a couple of right-wing coaches who have no children of their own (so they don't worry how their conversation affects young children), but then i remembered that they have heard even members of our extended family rant about some pretty radical stuff.
And perhaps (shudder) i have something to do with it. I mean, his friend was in the car with him and he was also at our house last night and he wasn't upset at all. Of course, you have to account for William being a more serious kid than most 15 year olds. Okay, though. Have i entertained the idea that perhaps Barack Obama is not exactly who he says he is? Yes. Have i expressed that to my children? Probably in not so many words. Maybe my calm, rational explanations are more harmful than Grandma's ranting about terrorism and conspiracy.
Do our children have the right to (or should we afford them the luxury of) growing up with a feeling of relative security? Should we tell them that all is well? Do they really need to be worried about how the country is being run? Don't they need to focus on their schoolwork? Shouldn't we let them be kids? Or at least be a little carefree? Will there come a day when all is not well and they will need to know it? To be emotionally prepared?
Children are concrete thinkers. When we say things like, "The economy is going to pot! My retirement fund is not going to be worth anything!" or "I'm going to have to take out a loan to fill my gas tank." They think, "We aren't going to have enough money for food this week." Okay, maybe not all kids think that. When i was a kid, i heard my parents talking about some of their financial struggles and when life went on as usual, i figured that those kinds of problems weren't really all that important. My impression of my big brother was that he just took my parents' issues way too seriously (or took too much responsibility for them). But maybe i had my head in the sand thinking that their issues wouldn't have any effect on me. Or maybe i understood on some level that they also had made many good financial moves and those were not so readily "discussed."
Anyway, i think i'm going to adopt my niece's philosophy on the subject of the presidency. Can i quote you, Claire? "I will try my best to show him the respect that I think was lacking for President Bush over the past 8 years because he is now going to be our President. Not necessarily by agreeing with him on probably anything, but by not calling him stupid for one." We still both agree that we might have to call socialism socialism when we see it. I blame that less on Obama, though and more on ourselves. Socialism is what we want and socialism is what we are going to get. Maybe just sooner than later.
Oops. Can this entry duck under the cover of not being so controversial in the future? :)