Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friends in 2024

My seven year old registered to vote a few weeks ago. The hardest part for her was signing her name in cursive. I am speaking about an unofficial voter registration form, of course, part of a packet designed for kids by the website Great Schools that I have to say was pretty great.


I found the packet online and after printing the 15 pages, I handed it to my daughter without much explanation.

“When you can’t sleep, just do the word-find about the electoral college,” was the gist of my introduction. She completed most of the pages in her closet with the aid of a book light, which, like reading Harry Potter on her own, means she was into it.

Many of my friends, and perhaps readers of this blog, have taken a more active role in bringing their kids into the political process. For whatever reasons, and I am not sure I can articulate them, I have been more passive in this with my daughter than I might have been.

We have looked at big themes: read books on Elizabeth Cady Stanton; talked about the government; she has gone with me to vote ever since she could walk. But she is a sensitive kid, and although she likes ideas and debate, she does not like conflict. And I cannot explain to her much of what I perceive in this political climate without entering into that realm.

The brilliant thing about the Great Schools handout is that it does not shy away from explaining one of the sources of this conflict or what kids might recognize as behavior they certainly are expected to rise above. This is the section on “Political Ads” defining them as positive, negative or ones that exaggerate.

She was to identify the quotations accordingly:

“My opponent secretly hates ice cream.”

“I like ice cream and I support people eating it.”

“Ice cream has calcium, just like milk. That’s why we should all eat ice cream more often. Maybe even every day! Most doctors agree with me.”

A few weeks ago, my daughter came home and told me she’d been talking to a boy in class. He was supporting a different candidate than she. But that was ok. They could still be friends.

If "being friends with someone who holds a different opinion" is a concept she holds onto as she begins to learn more details, takes a more active voice and matures to hold her own opinions and finally votes—for real—in the year 2024, I will be happy. It is naive and out of touch with the urgency of political issues, but it is the lesson I will continue to teach.

How she feels about ice cream is a different matter.


SANDY: 
The devastation Sandy brought continues to leave people in my region without power or even their homes. My particular New Jersey neighborhood was not hit as hard, although many friends were without power for days. Thanks to those who checked in, or mailed me a lantern.

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2 comments:

Lunch Box Mom said...

My seven year old registered to vote a few weeks ago. The hardest part for her was signing her name in cursive. I am speaking about an unofficial voter registration form, of course, part of a packet designed for kids by the website Great Schools that I have to say was pretty great.

Tim Morrissey said...

Living in a home that during their formative years was run by two people who were in the news media business gave our kids an early sense of the clash that's often part of politics. But they were clearly taught that it's not wrong to have a different point of view.

As adults, they are rabid partisans of their favorite athletic teams, but pretty much middle-of-the-road in politics.

I often wonder what true affect of their parents' "political discussions" really was.