My oldest son just turned seven and is starting to try to understand the world he lives in. He takes in stuff, then asks questions later. This week…he asked us about Trump.
Let me preface this with me saying that I absolutely give zero hoots who you are voting for or why. I’m trying to make this post as apolitical as possible, so let’s all be civil. KTHX!
Since school has started, my son has been taking in his world and trying to make sense of it. And, being an election year, he’s really confused. We’ve had the debates on tv. He largely plays with toys while they are going on, but every now and then he stops and listens before going back to playing.
One thing I’ve learned is that he is not a fan of Donald Trump. Not sure what he thinks of Hillary Clinton, but I’m sure he’ll say something about her at some point. After the last debate, he asked why Donald Trump was so mad. After trying to explain things a bit, he decided that maybe Donald Trump would be too mean to be president.
Days go by. Then, last night, my son comes up to me. He is quiet and I can tell he’s thinking. He chews on his bottom lip as words try to form before he swallows them. I asked him what was on his mind. Then he asked me ‘the question’.
“Daddy, if Donald Trump gets elected, do we have to move someplace else for a year or two or ,you know, until he stops being president?”
His words rained down on me like a ton of bricks. In that instance, I was confronted with some issues I’ve been struggling with in my personal life. My brain began racing. Should I be glib? Should I just choose not to answer him? Should I give him some guru-esque non-answer?
No. His question was coming from a very serious and worrisome place and he deserved a very serious answer. Well, as serious an answer a seven year old can handle, that is.
I put my hand on his shoulder and walked to the dining room. I sat down so I could look him in the eye.
“No, son. We don’t run away because things are tough. We try to make any situation better, by staying.”
He scrunched up his forehead.
“Okay, do you notice how there are fewer people going to our church right now? Notice how a lot of kids aren’t coming on Sundays anymore? Well, there was some stuff going on at our church that made some people mad. Some people got hurt. Some people just didn’t like it there anymore. And, so, they left.”
He looked at me. “Why didn’t we leave?”
“Because, leaving doesn’t solve the problem. Sometimes we have to stay when we don’t want to. Sometimes when the world seems dark, we have to stay to be a ray of light to help light up the world again. And it’s going to take more than a presidential election to make we want to leave our home.”
And there it was. Something I’ve been struggling with for the last couple of years, just put out there. So many things have been ‘off’ over the last year or so. My faith, while strong, has been tested more recently than ever before. I’ve watched the country I love tear itself apart from the inside out. Everyone is either afraid, or angry, or both. No one is happy. It makes me want to leave. It makes me want to throw up the double deuce and go somewhere away from the hate, anger, vitriol and near incessant online attacks against, beliefs, character, and well, everything something might disagree with.
Just the act of saying it out loud cemented it; made it real.
Now, I’m not sure if he has just heard a bunch of people saying, “If <insert candidate you hate here> gets elected, I’m moving to <insert country of preference here>!” Lord knows I’ve heard a lot of rhetoric bouncing around those lines as of late.
Frankly, I don’t really think it matters who gets elected this time around. America has problems. One presidential election will neither make or break us as a country. But, teaching my kids to run away when things aren’t perfect…just might.
No, son. We Stay. WE STAY BECAUSE WE CARE.