Sometimes, my daughter amazes me. Really. Alyssa has been into the Presidential race from the beginning- mainly because of my influence. I'm open with my kids about everything, including politics. And this has been a history making race. Not something I thought I would ever see and now something that I want them to remember as the very first time there was a whisper of change.
She watched with me to see whether Senator Clinton or Senator Obama would win the nomination. She listened to the coverage, asked questions. I answered as best I could, keeping in mind that she would absorb this and take it with her later on. I encouraged her curiosity, talking with her about making intelligent choices, paying attention to what all the candidates, party aside, had to say. Because, for me, it isn't about the party. It's about the best person for the job. It isn't about your race, your gender, your religion. It's how you, in my eyes, will best serve our country and the people that live in it... how will your term help us to flourish?
Last month, she came home from school telling me about the mock election they would be holding. she wanted to know why she couldn't just vote, for real. She wants to vote. She's upset that she can't. I'm proud of that. And then, the hard hitting questions.
She wanted to know why people would or wouldn't vote for someone based on their color, their gender or their religion. I explained that some people see things differently, and that there are some who can't look past certain things to see a bigger picture. Here are Alyssa's opinions on that:
Voting for someone just because they're a woman is stupid. Same for NOT voting for the same reason. "I know we're smarter, Mom .. (oops...).. but still!"
Voting for / against someone because they are a different color is dumb. "It's what's inside that makes people good or bad, not what's outside." Very true, my smart girl. But not all people are open minded enough to see that.
Voting because of religion is dumb, too. "Isn't America here because we wanted to be free to believe what we want to?" Thank you, public education, for giving her that so early. That isn't sarcasm on my part, either. I appreciate her knowing these things when she's not so jaded against this or that.
Alyssa has an advantage when it comes to "different". She doesn't see it. Having Jake has given her that, and having me be open has given her more. She's never made fun of someone for being different, she's never understood why people are picked on for it. She seems to grasp the idea that some people don't see it that way, but she hasn't matured enough to realize that regardless, it will always be that way. Sadly. People will always be labeled, judged, etc. Unfortunately, it's the way the world seems to work. She understands, because of Jake, that people are cruel sometimes, and sometimes they just don't understand. We fear what we don't understand, a lot of the time. And we react to that.
She voted, proudly, in her election yesterday. She has watched coverage of Kids Pick the President. She's now fascinated with former Presidents, Abraham Lincoln in particular. To her, he made this election possible. She is enthralled with the idea of this first. Because either way, it will be a first. She is excited to be a part of it, even without being able to really vote. She actually seems to grasp some of the bigger issues and has very definite opinions about them. Some issues, of course, are too complicated, or mature, to explain to her. I'm open, but not when it involves explaining things she really doesn't need to know about. For now.
She blows me away sometimes. She really does. She is still so innocent in the ways of the world, but more informed than a lot of the adults I know who ARE allowed to vote. Scary. All I know is that this has affected her. She wants to know more about those who have changed the country, and she wants to know how she can too. And who knows, maybe one day she really will. At eight, she already seems more qualified than some. **cough**
So, go out and vote. Let's all hope that positive changes come from this election, and hope that we call all be united in our support of one another's choices. No more attacking or judging, or even condemning because of who we believe is the best choice. After all, isn't this about being free to make that choice? Just ask my daughter.