Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What Do We Tell Our Kids?

talking to kids about the election
All smiles after casting our vote

It's 2:30 a.m. right now and I am gutted. I feel like I'm living in a surreal world. Or a nightmare. Definitely not real life. I'm sitting here, stunned. The TV is on, as it has been for hours, but I have it on mute now. I can't listen to another second of the funeral march that is MSNBC. I'm exhausted, but I can't go to sleep. Yes, I am in disbelief that half of this country voted for a racist, misogynistic, sociopathic con man. But it's more than that. I'm afraid of tomorrow morning for another reason.

Because early tomorrow morning, my daughter is going to come into our room, crawl into the bed and excitedly say: "Mommy! Mommy! Did Hillary win??" And I'm going to have to disappoint her--and I don't yet know how to do that.

My daughter is only six, but she was incredibly captivated by this election. She loved the idea of a female president. She was shocked when she learned that there was a time that women couldn't vote. ("That's not fair!" she said.) She came with me to vote during the primary and she came with me to vote this morning. She asked to push the button to make the vote official. She was excited to do it. We took a smiling selfie outside of our polling place.

She also felt intuitively that Donald Trump was not a good person. "He's mean!" she said. "He's a bully!" (She also added: "I don't like his signature hairstyle. It's too swoopy!" And yes, those were all her words!)

How do I tell her that the bully won? Bullying isn't supposed to be rewarded--and certainly not in this way. How do I explain that, sometimes, bullies win? 

Tomorrow morning, in bedrooms all around the country, children will climb into beds and want to know the outcome. If you are thinking this is the point in this essay where I offer sage advice and wisdom, you will be disappointed.

Because I don't know what the hell I am going to say.

The bully with no experience who didn't do his homework won. I'm an adult and I can't wrap my head around that. So, how can I expect a six year old to do so?

If you have any advice, please share it. I'm at a loss. And I'm so, so dreading the morning. Because tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to break my daughter's heart.
___

**UPDATE**: So she woke up at 6:30--and it was worse than I had imagined. I was alone, because my husband was already at work. (He works in finance, and because of Trump's election, there is now a global financial crisis, so it was all hands on deck in his office. Fun!) Here is a basic transcript of what went down.

Her: Mommy! Who won?
Me: [takes deep breath] Donald Trump.
Her. Stop it. You're joking. Who won?
Me: Donald Trump.
Her: I can't tell if you're joking. Really?
Me: I'm not joking. He really won.
Her: [Runs into bathroom and starts bawling]
Me: [knocks on the door and entersI know you are upset. I'm sad, too. But talk to me. Why exactly are you so sad?
Her: Because Hillary Clinton won't be the first girl president!
Me: Hillary may not be the first girl president, but now maybe YOU can be the first girl president!
Her: But now girls are not going to want to try to be president because they won't be positive about it, and they will think it isn't possible.
Me: [heart breaks]
Her: And I am sad because Donald Trump is the president! [bawling] He lies and you said the vice president is worse and now Donald Trump is going to go to jail for lying and then the vice president is going to be president.
Me: That's not going to happen. [thinks to self: "That may happen. Holy crap."]
Her: Why do boys always win? It's not fair. Even if the girls try really hard?
Me: [thinks to self: "WTF DO I SAY TO THIS BECAUSE SHE IS RIGHT?" Decides to lie.] They don't always win. In four years, we might have a girl president. The important thing to know is that mommy loves you, daddy loves you, and it's going to be okay. Your life is not going to change. 
Her: This is going to be the worst four years.

You got that right, kid.





2 comments:

jennifer said...

i had to have the same heartbreaking talk with my daughter this morning. she asked what we do now and we told her we continue to be good compassionate people. the most heartbreaking was when she asked if trump was going to make a rule saying her aunts as well as some close friends of ours were not allowed to be married any longer. it was a rough morning...

Yanira Garza said...

I had the same conversation. We walked to school in silence. We were late and she wanted me to walk her all the way in but I didn't want her to see me cry.

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