Oh GOD, she’s going to talk about politics. And children. And feminism. And Donald Trump.
You’re either interested at this point or you’re no longer here, clicked to another page, or are so annoyed that someone would ruin your day by making you think about things that you’d rather not think about that you’ve only stuck around so that you can have something to complain about later with your girlfriends over wine. I get it. We’ve all been there.
I recently read this blog post by Girl’s Gone Child and it got me thinking about how I talk to my children about political and social things. Things that I think are important. Things that I want my children to care about. Racism. Feminism. Poverty. Food sovereignty. How to not bother me with Minecraft at 6:30 in the morning. You know. Important things.
I often watch the news in the evening right at that really loud and difficult time of the evening: when dinner is over, children are tired and grimy, the dog is standing up at the dinning room table licking up the crumbs after supper, and either you or your spouse are in the bathroom on the phone avoiding having to adult again. So why not add to the chaos and turn on NBC Nightly News where of course Donald Trump just about always starts their news lineup? Any time a TV is on, my 2 sons glue to it immediately. A 5 and 7 year old watching the news with their mama, while their dad scrolls through Instagram on the toilet. Yea, I’m on to you. It’s a beautiful family moment. So when Donald Trump is front and center, claiming my children’s attention with his toupée and vitriol, I decide to say something.
“This guy wants to be president, you guys. And he’d be a very bad president. We’re not voting for him. Mom and Dad are voting for Bernie Sanders.” I say.
“He would be a bad president? Is he a bad guy? Does he want to kill kids?” asks Myles.
Because to a 7 year old, the world works in bad guys versus good guys; killers versus heroes; mutants versus humans. Thanks, Power Rangers. You’ve been super helpful here. So, what do I tell him? How do I: 1.) Dismantle this world view they have and 2.) Communicate that, yes, Trump says and does bad things?
We work very hard to remind our children that there are no bad guys and good guys. There are only people. People who make bad decisions, who choose to do bad things. And that this includes them, us, their friends, teachers, etc, etc. They hate this idea. They just refuse to acknowledge that there are not people who are born good and people who are born bad. And then there’s Donald Trump. Who spits his racism, jingoism, xenophobia, and misogyny at me and my kids. And then I think… maybe I believe in good guys and bad guys, too. Because just listen to him. His words drip with nonsense and bigotry.
So I have to remind myself that the Power Rangers aren’t real. That Donald Trump is not a bad guy. He’s not a good guy. He’s a man who has been taught to say whatever is necessary to get ahead. To trample those who are inconsequential to him. Disposable people. People who get in his way. Women. Black people. Mexicans. Immigrants. It’s what white men have done for centuries on this land. And we’re surprised? Because it’s 2016? Please. This is normal. But it’s not how it’s supposed to be.
That’s what we teach our children. It’s how we acclimate and politick our children, if you will. Two of our children are white males and they were born with an immense amount of power and privilege. More than I and my daughter will ever have. So at every opportunity we point out those who’s power has been taken away. Anytime they see any person’s dignity trampled on, we point it out and tell them that it’s wrong. And we’re very sure to tell them to care about everyone at an expense to themselves. I’ll, of course, tell my daughter the same. I’ll point out the young black girls who are given less opportunity and dignity than she is. And when my daughter is trampled and belittled and given a Barbie instead of a hammer at school, I’ll look at her and hand her a shovel and we’ll grow our own food in the backyard. Because that’s what we do. That’s what women do for each other. We help each other and lift each other up. And my sons are going to do the same. Right along with their dad. Who’s feminism turns me on so bad that I could jump his bones, even though he’s still probably in the bathroom on Instagram.