Every school day, I drive our children to the charter school in the next town over. The twenty minute drive (or, slow slog through traffic), is an opportunity for the kids and I to talk. Usually the conversations are some combination of what’s going on at school, and appeals (by me) for them to stay off their devices while we are driving, with a few other random bits of life thrown in.
Sometimes the conversations get a bit deeper, but generally the tone is light as one, or both, of them may be half asleep, or as noted above, squeezing in a few extra minutes on YouTube or with their marauding hordes.
But I’ve noticed a change in the conversation. This week it was about elections and democracy. Election fixing and the importance in any democracy that people have faith in the system. Contentious elections and the peaceful transfer of power. I prepped my daughter with a question for her most enthusiastic Geo teacher. . . “What is the electoral college, and can a candidate win the popular vote but still lose the election?”
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when she asks that one. I’m fairly certain her teacher might implode with glee.
We’ve also talked about how people talk about women, treat women and the power of our words. And yes, I’ve heard both my children use the words “sexual assault,” a phrase I certainly never expected would be part of their vernacular.
A friend of mine recently tweeted:
This election is off the rails and the “Noid” taking off with the election would not be any more surprising or shocking than anything else we’ve seen, or heard.
And it’s having an impact on our children.
I am fortunate that I have the time with my children each day, even if it’s just a few minutes, to hear some of what is going through their brains. I have worked hard to have the kind of relationship with my children that we can talk openly about our concerns, our questions, our hopes and yes, our fears.
But when I reflect on these conversations, I’m angry that we need to have them. I’m devastated that my children are growing up in a time where we still don’t know how to speak to, or respect women. That there is so much ignorance, hate and fear of those who are different. That we use the excuse of “saying it like it is” or “not having time for political correctness” to spew ugly ideas and statements. That there are some who hear these hateful, offensive, threatening statements and laugh, or accept as normal.
Maybe it’s a good thing that we can see things as they really are – but like Pandora’s box, there is no putting it back after the election. The arrows have been thrown. The wounds have been made.
I hope we can start to heal. And that we remember our children are listening.