The Weight of Teaching Kids About Politics (and Jerkwads)

Mommy, why are so many people putting Rommey signs in their yards?


Yeah, Rommey. Like that one.

I look and it hits me: Romney. Ah yes, a Presidential election year. He wasn’t reading four years ago, being only two. The kid is smart, but not that smart. He also may have been present when I watched the news, but he didn’t watch the news in 2008 — like he does now, with or without me. Sometimes he is so startlingly my child that I wonder how horribly we will clash when he is older. I’ll cross that bridge later.

“Oh, Romney, with an N. It’s a Presidential election year, like they were talking about on the news the other night, and Romney is running for President. The people with signs in their yards think he is the better candidate. They are showing their support for him and will vote for him on election day in November.”

A turn signal length of silence before, “But not us?

The weight slams down on my shoulders.

The responsibility of helping our sons make sense of both religion and politics sometimes feels like too much, too heavy a burden to carry. I want to do the same thing my parents did, to inform my sons about the ins and outs of a democracy and leave them with the room to make their own decisions, form their own opinions about the bigger stuff in life. I feel that is hugely important, and I want to do as good a job of it as my parents did seeing as how they’re mid-range conservatives and I fall on the liberal side of the political fence. Even my grandfather, quite the conservative, accepted my liberal ways, sending me political cartoons and entering into respectful political commentary. My family is not one of fear-mongering email forwards, hate speech and general political angst. Even my brother is growing up and finding secure footing enough in his own beliefs, much different from my own, that he no longer tries to bait me into political discussion. Much.

I want that for our sons, for them to feel safe talking about their thoughts and political beliefs, to ask questions of us when they don’t understand. I want to feel confident enough in my own political beliefs to look them straight in the eye and say, “I don’t know.” Because a lot of the time, I don’t know. I don’t understand why certain people — on either side — are mean, why they say hurtful things, why they lie. I don’t quite know how to explain to them that political extremism of any kind is not healthy, is not safe for normal, everyday citizens. These concepts are big and huge. I want to do them justice; I want to do right by my sons, to shape their understanding of what it means to be a part of this country, to have a say in who leads us, to know that sometimes people don’t believe the same as you and, for the most part, that’s okay.

Suddenly I have a flash of a conversation with my parents. I had traveled to the polling place with them where they had cast votes int he 1992 Presidential election. We pulled up outside my grandparents house, where I had been pestering them the whole mile and a half, “Who did you vote for? Who did you vote for?” My father refused to tell me that day, claiming that it mattered less who he voted for and more that he went out and actually voted.

So, I decided to skirt the issue.


“Well, Buddy, it doesn’t matter if Mommy or Daddy like Romney or Obama more. What matters is that we live in a democracy and we get to vote, we get to choose who leads our country.”

I decided to go on.

“Someday you’ll get to help choose too, and you will get to make the choice. Not Mommy or Daddy. You. You get to choose.”

A brief pause before, “Someday?

“Yes, you don’t get to vote until you’re 18.”

Well, that’s not fair!

Outraged, both boys launched into a tirade about how they wanted to be able to vote too and 18 was too far away and on and on. I heard about it all the way into the house and over after-school snacks. I smiled. I hope when they are old enough to vote that they are that passionate about wanting to help shape our country, so passionate that they couldn’t be bothered to decide whether they wanted milk or juice with their snack.

I won’t hide my support of my preferred candidate, though we’ll probably forgo the sign in the yard because what do those really do anyway? Are they supposed to sway me? “Oh look, so-and-so has a sign in his yard and he’s a great guy so I should probably vote for his candidate?” I imagine we’ll have more conversations over the next few months about the candidates and democracy and voting and the issues. Quite honestly, if I can get out of this election year without having to explain the word rape to my news-watching six-and-a-half-year-old, I’ll be pretty happy.

Maybe between now and then we’ll hit a rally, like LittleBrother and I did in 2008.

Me & P at the Rally
I know, right?

In November, the boys will come with us to vote. We’ll have pancakes afterward at the fire department. That evening, we’ll let them stay up as long as possible to be a part of the events. This is the election that will begin to shape their understanding of our country and the people who live within its borders. I hope — I hope — that others try their hardest to be as respectful as we are in this household of others’ political beliefs and rights to have and express those beliefs. I’d sure hate for their first lessons in politics to be that some people are jerkwads.

So, if only for the sake of my sons and how I’m trying to raise them not to be jerkwads, let’s all leave room for each other this year, okay? Okay.


Fitbit Flex Activity + Sleep Wristband

The Last of the Wishers

Fall is coming.

Argue all you want about the date on the calendar and how summer is still summer until late September, but fall is coming. The tips of certain trees are tinged with oranges, yellows and reds. The grass has run its course this season, starting green, fading to brown with the drought, coming back full force when the rains drenched the area and now, the tones are brown once again. It’s a different brown than drought brown; brown and green and worn, showing that summer is drawing to an end.

The sun rises in a different place than it did this summer. It filters through the trees differently as well, casting longer shadows and more filtered tones than the bright, hot, white light of mid-summer. I took advantage of the light this morning and went on a brief walk with LittleBrother.

We were on a hunt for the Last of the Wishers.

Why are they the last ones, Mommy?

His hand cool in my warm one, we stepped quietly along in the dewy grass, watching for wishers.

“Fall is coming. Soon the wishers will be gone until next spring.”

We walked along quietly for a little bit, walking much longer than we did in the spring to find our beloved wishers, where every other foot involved shrieking, stopping, picking and wishing. The change of the seasons fell upon me as he began chattering again.

Are you sure there will be wishers next year?

“Wishers always come back. That’s the thing about wishers.”


He smiled up at me, hand still in mine, as I told him, as I assured him that wishers will always return to us after the cold, harsh winds of winter. What I didn’t tell him was that I can’t guarantee that he will always delight in seeing them, picking them, making the wishes of his heart on little white puffs. I can’t tell him with certainty that he’ll always pick one for me, for Daddy. Dandelions are a guarantee, of course, but childhood wonder ends. Childhood ends. I suppose that’s a guarantee as well. Dandelions and childhood ending.

Last of the Wishers

As my thumb stroked over the back of his hand, I was forced to wonder when the Season of Our Wishers will end. I have hope that I have another year or two before they are too busy, too involved, too big to make wishes, to pick their Mommy some flowers, to be seen walking with their parents in the neighborhood. I believe we still have time, that we are not quite in the autumn of our wisher season. We may be nearing the late summer, but surely there is still time; surely there is another season yet waiting for us to wish and dream and hope and believe.

We found two wishers growing on the side of the road. He wished… and acted like himself, a twinkle in his eye. I photographed… and prayed.

Last of the Wishers

Last of the Wishers

Mommy, I want BigBrother to get some of the last wishers too. Can we make sure he gets some wishers too?

I can only hope that the care and love he has for his brother will last a few more seasons as well, if not forever.

“Yes, Bubba. Soon.”

His hand slid back into mine as we walked back toward our home. Soon. All too soon. These seasons are flying by and I am left wanting to hold on to the last of the wishers. Forever.

Last of the Wishers

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012

Instaweek, August 19-25, 2012


I read for awhile on a Sunday, found #sexygreenshoes and asked the Internet if I should buy them, had a yummy dinner, went back to buy the #sexygreenshoes after my husband called to tell me that I should, sat on the front of a fire truck, smiled with my husband in front of the fire department, planned our week, listened to music that made me remember, watched two boys get a hair cut in the kitchen, went to BigBrother’s first grade classroom, helped him with some “homework” before school began, smiled together in the backyard, ate breakfast and read, felt shocked I had a first grader on the first day of school, and took LittleBrother for doughnuts.

I made peach and blackberry cobbler, hung out taking photos of clouds with BigBrother, smiled together in the front yard, had my ears bleed, started BigBrother’s soccer season, watched my husband walk our oldest son to the bus, listened to them make Wookie sounds from the bus stop, cried when the bus pulled away, started LittleBrother’s soccer season, admired LittleBrother’s new “style,” had the first coffee of the school year with three of my friends, went antiquing and bought a Gene Autry record, admired some green 7-Up glass bottles, and taught the boys to play cornhole.

We enjoyed a late summer evening in the front yard with roughhousing, giggles, and smiles under the tree.

I went to my hometown fair where the boys rode rides, made YiaYia ride the Dizzy Dragons with the boys; I had dinner at delicious Las Velas with a bunch of really good and fun and beautiful and fabulous friends from Pittsburgh, and then we went to PNC Park, where the view was beautiful, and the fireworks barge parked for the show after the game; I found some Dippin Dots because Burgh Baby doesn’t like them, and I got the banana split flavor.

The Pittsburgh Pirates won, reminding me why I love baseball, and the Zambelli fireworks were amazing. I may have gotten homesick at the end.

What did you Instagram this week? What was your favorite photo?