Thursday, November 15, 2012

Presidential Election 2012

I was determined to break the myth that voting with 3 kids could be dangerous to your health and the patience of others.
Election time was always bitter sweet growing up. The debates were at times heated in the kitchen as my parents split the great divide with one being a devoted Republican and one being a devoted Democrat and both of which who typically always voted within their party. All I could decipher as a young child was that one party certainly did not agree with the other party and by the end of the night the conversation was mute because it always ended with the statement, “we cancel each other out anyways.” My head was spinning and confused so much so that when it came time to preregister to vote in high school, I wasn’t sure which party to jump into so I registered as an Independent.
I would be wrong though to say that any of it was a negative or horrible experience and not because both my parents read my blog (wink, wink) but rather because I always looked forward to the actual voting experience. I couldn’t necessarily explain it other than that there was a certain tension and excitement in the air during election time and while waiting in the voting lines with my parents. Truth be told, I was an easy sell for voting process because of my favorite part of the whole experience…the sticker. Oh come on, you have to admit the power behind that one little sticker and the pride of those that wear it. Even if I missed the vote itself, my Dad would dutifully hand over his “I voted” sticker the moment he walked in the door. That sticker held so much power for me and still does to this day.
Fast forward a few decades and another election… I wanted to pass the same “sticker pride” to my children. I knew that my 2 oldest were at a good age to start laying a positive foundation for the whole voting experience. They were both coming home daily with different facts and statements about the impending election and they both had formed their own convictions on opposite sides of the aisles. So much so that I was reverting back to my childhood.
Cooper came home with a paper from school the day before the election with a drawing he had done himself of a women standing at a polling booth with a taking bubble that said,
“hmmm, hoo shud I vote for Met Romnee or Obom”.
Schools were closed on Election Day so I was determined to not let the day go by without some involvement in this great privilege of voting. I started the night before feverishly getting ready for the big day buying red, white, and blue food to eat throughout the day, crafts, posters, and ended my night with hanging red, white, and blue decorations.
I waited as long as I could to hang the decorations as I wasn’t quite sure what Blane would say about another one of my crazy gimicks and taking things just “a little” too far. Finally at 11:00pm when I realized he wasn’t going to bed anytime soon, I decided to pull out the crazy card and started  decorating. He was a good sport and joined in and helped somewhere in between his laughs and comments like, “how many other people do you think are doing this right now?” Good question….but I plugged on determined to make something of our election day with the kiddos.
The morning arrived and even the kids were a little shocked to see the decorations. We started our day with running for president ourselves. We each made campaign posters with promises of what would happen if we were elected. Then we each took turns with a speech.
Cooper was a man of many words, “because”. Ok, so first one out the gate was not as enthusiastic about the activity as I had hoped.
Parker’s promises involved “no school, eating one healthy food a day, birthdays would last a week and Christmas would be everyday”. I appreciated her enthusiasm.
Parker also made a poster for Berkley and apparently Berkley would promise to “give Mommy milk to all people and extra smiles and giggles to people that voted for her.”

And Mommy’s idea of a good campaign promise was 3 days at school and 4 days off each week, sweet treats would be required, snuggle time is mandatory, a Day of Jubilee just like Biblical times to erase everyone’s debt, and Mother’s Day would be changed to Mother’s Week.” I was really trying to go for the younger vote with the sweet treat promise.
After our speeches, we filled ourselves up with all the red and blue dye a person could handle complete with our lady liberty cupcakes the kids made themselves.


The day was filled throughout with random dance parties and chants of "USA, USA, USA!". We sat together and watched some news coverage to try and drive home just how important voting was for our country. We snapped and few pictures…
….and then jumped on our bikes and headed to the polling booth. I was very grateful for all the early voters and our small voting precinct right here in our neighborhood. A long line could have been disastrous with 3 children. We walked right in ready to make our mark and both kids were anxious to see how this all really happened. Luckily they had tables and chairs to sit down at as an option rather than just the tall booths. I gathered everyone around the table like little hens and pointed to the different names. In fact, it was Parker that caught my mistake when I voted for the wrong congressman. After grabbing a second ballot and starting the process again, I was grateful that they can both now read and had caught my mistake.…or was I? I started marking my choice and Cooper using his best “outside voice” with tears filling in his eyes kept saying, “Obama, pick Obama. Why are you not picking Obama? He’s our president”. The looks from the nearby booths were mixed and I just smiled politely hoping to communicate the “oh isn’t he just so cute” response. I was pretty sure his Pa-Pa put him up to this one.
We survived the experience and we all walked out of there proudly displaying our “I Voted” stickers. Overall it was a great day and I know that it will be one they won’t forget.
Regardless of the final tally of votes, my number one hope is that their true conviction will still be the same conviction as they continue to grow. For Parker it was simple when trying to talk through the candidates, “Is he a Christian?” And for Cooper, after watching a news clip on TV when we returned home, he leaned into me while I was talking to my Dad on the phone and wanted to know, “Do you think Obama has Jesus in his heart?”
So simple….so true….so fun…Love it!