I haven't updated here in a while, mostly because I'm busy and as The Girl gets older, she's more self conscious about me putting things online, and I kind of try to respect that for her. I mean, there's the cute stuff you say when you're a toddler, and then there's the stuff you might say when you're 10. And she's 10, a mere 2 months away from 11.
Let me tell you about my kid's school. It's a Title I school, which means that more than half of the kids are on free or reduced hot lunch. Just over 50% of the school is minority, with most of those kids being Hispanic or Latino. If I had to guess just from our experience at school events, its probably about 30 to 35% Hispanic or Latino, 20 to 25% African American and 45 to 50% White. It's a diverse school, and we love that.
Anyway, yesterday, after I picked up The Girl at school, we were riding in the car toward home, and NPR was on the radio, as it usually is. Of course, as it invariably does, the news turns to Donald Trump, and his latest misadventure. The Girl turns to me and says, "what did Trump do now?" This sent us down the road of talking about how Trump was bragging about touching and kissing women, whether they wanted him to or not. That, of course, led to a conversation about consent, and that it's not just about sex, but it's also about touching or hugging or kissing. Thanks, by the way, Mr. Trump, for making me have this conversation with my kid. It's one I needed to have, and while you didn't grope those women just so that I could explain to my daughter about body autonomy, at least there are now plenty of opportunities for me to talk to her about it.
After discussing Trump's behavior with women, The Girl turns to me and says, "Mama, are you voting for Trump?" "Of course not, honey. Why would I vote for someone who did something like that?" There was a long pause, and I asked her, "What are you thinking about?" "I wish I could tell people every where not to vote for Trump," she finally said. "Why is that?" I asked. "Because he wants to send my friends away. T is Mexican, Mom. I have like 6 friends who are all Mexicans, and Trump said that he'd send them away."
At this point, I was doing everything I could not to pull the car over and just hug this kid and tell her that the world is better than this one stupid man and his promised mass deportations and racism. Instead, I tried to be as steady and reassuring as I could, "Well, honey, that would be pretty awful, and we're going to do everything we can to make that not happen." She considered that for a minute and then asked, "What about Uncle Hector? Will he have to leave?" "Oh, no, honey, he's an American citizen, he's from Puerto Rico. And your cousin was born in Georgia, he's an American, too." "But, Mama, he's brown. What if they don't know and they just send him away, too?"
I've thought about that conversation all last night and today. When I turned out her light last night, when I said goodbye to her this morning, I was thinking about it. And, I'll be honest, a couple of times, I've teared up about it.
This is where we are today: my 10 year old daughter, in 5th grade, has had long discussions with her friends on the playground and in the lunchroom about how they'll stay in contact if Trump is elected and they get deported and sent away. They should be talking about Pokemon cards and her favorite music and her latest adventures in Minecraft.
I remember the first time I was really aware of an Presidential election. It was 1980, and at school we got the little mini-newspaper flyers that had a picture of Carter on one half of the page and Reagan on the other. I don't remember many of the details, other than asking my parents who I should vote for in our school's mock election. I don't even remember who I voted for. I remember them telling me that I could decide on my own, and that I didn't have to tell anyone, because it was a secret ballot.
I don't remember ever being frightened about what might happen to me if Carter or Reagan won. It's not like 1980 was a time of joy and without fear, but I didn't live in that fear, and I certainly didn't assign it to one potential US President. I can't imagine being 10 and being afraid for your friends, that they might be whisked away like criminals and shipped off if enough people decide to vote for one man.
My kid deserves to be bored by Presidential politics like I was at 10, not afraid of them. She deserves to hear her parents talk about tax policy and foreign affairs, not mass deportations and body autonomy. She definitely deserves better, we all do.