This will probably be the last thing I'll post here about He Who Should Not Be Tweeting, as I know we're all desperate to change the subject and move on. But since the comment section has been especially passionate this week...I want to at least acknowledge everybody's input and thank you for all the myriad of perspectives you provided. It was uniquely helpful to see such a lively mix of both people who I'm on the same damn depressed page with and from those of you on the other side of the aisle. Thank you for sharing, truly.
I did take a bit of offence at the accusations that it was entirely my own "fault" that my children were upset at the results and have a deeply negative view of the president-elect. That obviously I alone shaped and planted that opinion via carelessness or brainwashing. So lemme address that.
A quick look at how many websites have featured some kind of "What Do I Tell My Children?" article, or perspectives from teachers with classrooms full of children either terrified for their friends/families (or chanting "Build That Wall" in the lunchroom), pretty quickly shows how difficult it was to shield children from this election. I mean, it lasted forever, it dominated the media and Internet, it made all of us feel like we were living in some endless Truman Show-type reality experiment with each scandal, each leak, each Twitter feud, each HE SAID WHAT ABOUT WHO NOW?? frenzy.
Kids are perceptive. They don't exist in an alternate reality bubble where they'll never read a headline over your shoulder or hear the TV on in the other room. They eavesdrop in restaurants, on the other side of your bedroom door, they page through magazines in the doctor's office. And of course, they go to school. They have civics and social studies classes where democracy and presidential elections are part of the curriculum. They talk to other people who are not their parents.
Our children attend a school where white students are not the majority population. Our area has a very large immigrant population, and many are immigrants from the very countries Trump has targeted for a ban or mass deportations (or "a closer look" or "extreme vetting" or whatever other shit he's dog-whistled about). They also know kids from gay and lesbian families, and some adopted internationally. So our boys actually got most of their initial impressions of Trump from other kids at school. And I can't even be a little bit mad about that: These families HAVE to talk about Trump with their children because he's talking about their family.
Sure, we technically had the luxury -- the privilege-- of never talking about Trump to our white, male children, out here in a Blue State suburb. Because sweeping all this shit under the rug and pretending it doesn't exist has worked out so well for this country, you know?
Yeah, no thanks. I'm thrilled to be raising them in this diverse community, but even that can be its own sort of bubble against the ugly realities of racism and xenophobia. When there are trucks driving around saying TRUMP: DO THE WHITE THING and billboards that read TRUMP: MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN...you guys. Vote how you want but acknowledge that it's happening, at least.
For our family, that (among many other things...although y'all know we were both raised to be hardcore Republicans, right?) was simply a dealbreaker. We encourage our kids to ask questions and think critically about politics, religion, science, etc. but we do not lie or withhold our own opinions when asked directly. They know they are allowed to hold different views. But I do not regret telling my children that peddling in conspiracy theories, racism, sexism, and bigotry are dealbreakers, and that I could not in good conscience vote for Trump.
If I did make a mistake with my children, it was the same mistake pretty much every Democrat made: I trusted the polls. I used the polls to calm my children's fears because look, there's no way he'll win. There is no way America will elect this...this...oh my God. My brain still can't comprehend that we did. But I should have better prepared them for the possibility. I definitely own that.
Most of our conversations with them since Wednesday have been focused on acceptance, tolerance, and moving forward. Be gracious in defeat, like Hillary was in her speech. Don't get angry at people who voted for Trump or argue with kids at school about it -- people will always have different opinions and are entitled to express them with their vote. (And this is why it's important to always vote, even if you think it's 100% for-sure settled. Also: MIDTERMS GODDAMMIT.)
But still, just like before: Speak up when you see bullying. Don't call people names. (I deleted an awful lot of choice names for Trump from this entry, BTW, while trying to follow my own advice.) Think before you speak. Always tell the truth. Respect other people and their bodies. Be a good, kind person.
Yesterday after school, Ezra once again expressed his disappointment over the election. "Jenny told me that Donald Trump is going to make life harder for women."
I was unsure what aspect of a woman's life this Jenny was referring to directly -- overturning Roe? marriage equality? access to birth control? equal pay? not having our pussies grabbed on the regular? so many to choose from! -- so I didn't say anything. Ezra went on.
"Why would he want to make life harder for women? He has a wife! And daughters! It doesn't make any sense."
I want to make sense of it. I've heard from Trump voters and while I hear you, I just don't believe he's really going to do a damn thing for you, or me, or anyone other than his fellow billionaires (though how about those tax returns, Mr. President-Elect? any day now, right?) and the big business/establishment concerns where he's made his fortune. I don't think his movement is about anything other than his own raging ego, and he simply isn't up to the job in any way, shape or form, and will outsource the duties of the office to some truly terrible people. I worry everything he does manage to do is going to have catastrophic effects on the economy, the environment, and the civil rights of many, many of our fellow Americans.
I will continue to try to make sense of it, though, to hear and to listen. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, which would be great. But until that happens, I will fight like hell to protect the social progress we've made, and for the rights and safety of everyone who feels threatened and marginalized by this administration. Because it's not just about me.
Because our children are watching.