Colt is the perfect age for an election year. And by “perfect” I mean “equal parts innocent and impressionable — and curious”.
He’s been coming home repeating things kids at school have claimed about their (parents’) views and opinions and he sees the campaign signs in front yards and he will tell you he knows who he would vote for, given the chance.
On the way home from school today, he asked me who we’re voting for and I hesitated. Are you supposed to tell your kids how you vote? Is that a teachable moment? Are you supposed to assert your (good) influence and pass on your views? Is that good parenting? Is that the right thing? We’ve been honest and direct with him whenever possible, so part of me wanted to explain it all to him at an appropriate level of detail, but I was both exhausted and nervous just thinking about it. We talk about voting, but we’ve never told him how we vote and any “issue” we’ve discussed has been in the context of life – not politics.
Sensing my delay, he blurted out, “well, are you voting for Donald Trump?”
That, I could answer, and my new favorite Tim McGraw song jumped to mind.
“Buddy, do you know what it means to be kind?”
“Yeah, like if I said, ‘I like your face’ or ‘You have a cool shirt.'”
“Yep, just like that. Do you think it’s important to be kind?”
“Me, too, Buddy. Do you know what it means to be humble?”
“Like the song? ‘Hard to be humble’?”
*shudder* “Yeah, kinda like that.”
(under his breath) ♪ ♫ Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble… I must be one hell of a fan… ♪ ♫
*more shuddering* “Yep. So you know what humble means?”
“Mommy, it means you don’t brag and talk about yourself.”
“YES! That’s exactly right. And that’s the best way I can explain it to you. Humble and kind. And fair. You get to pick whoever you want to vote for someday, but it’s always gonna be important that you’re humble and kind.”
It’s not that simple, I realize. And someday maybe he’ll want to talk about politics again when he IS old enough to vote, and I’ll have to be brave enough to listen – whether or not we agree. But for seven year olds, it really is that simple. Don’t worry about who to vote for, Buddy. Just be humble and kind, and worry about being a good little human.
♪ ♫ Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin’
Don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind ♪ ♫
– Tim McGraw, Humble and Kind