Friday, November 18, 2016

That Day My Four Year Old Became a Trump Supporter

Colby: "Who do you want to win the election, Mama?"

Me: Hillary Clinton.

Colby: Why do you want her to win? She's a liar and a bad pewson.

Me: I'm sorry, what was that babe? I think I misheard you.

Colby: My teacher told me Hillary Clinton's a liar and a bad pewson.

Me: Well, some people think that, but I don't agree. I think Hillary Clinton will make a great president.

Colby: My teacher said Donald Twump will be the BEST Pwesident.

Me: Well honey, I disagree. Donald Trump says hurtful and disrespectful things about all sorts of different kinds of people. [Not to mention he lacks the knowledge, experience and temperament to be the leader of the free world.] I don't think he would be a good President at all.

Colby: My teacher says Hillary Clinton is the one who says diswespectful things. She told me anyone who says Donald Twump says mean things is just making it up.

Me: Hmmm... okayyyy... welll.... uh, everyone is entitled to their opinion, sugar pie. I'll just have to agree to disagree with her on that. [And/or provide video evidence.]

Colby: Mama, I know you won't be too happy, but half of me wants Donald Twump to win.

Sweet Jesus. I tried to think about how someone would feel if the situation were reversed - If the child of a Trump supporter came home from school spouting insults about Donald Trump. But then I thought, what could you possibly say about Donald Trump that is worse than the truth? And even if there was something, empirical evidence (and his own hubris) indicates that his supporters couldn't care less. (E.g., "I could shoot somebody and not lose voters.")

This exchange happened on election night. I had left a little early and was feeling nervous but giddy. I was anxious that the election would be a nail-biter, but felt fairly confident it would end in celebration of the first female president of the United States. NPR was on the radio, turned down low, talking about early returns from the east coast. When Colby spoke up, I honestly thought I had misheard. By the time the conversation was over, I was so mad I could barely see straight.

Later, when the kids were in bed, and I had come out of hiding from my hour-long bubble-bath to face the dystopian reality of a Donald Trump presidency, I rehashed the conversation with DM, the rage-heat rising, fire in my heart. I was out for blood. This was so wrong! Heads were gonna roll! (And by "heads were gonna roll," I mean, "At least one or two people will be receiving a strongly-worded letter!")

The next morning at breakfast, Colby asked, "Who won the Pwesident contest?"

Me: Donald Trump.

Colby: Yay! That makes me happy because it will make my teacher so happy!

[Me, smoothing my loving mom face over my apoplectic fury.]

DM pleaded with me not to say anything, and I didn't. But later that night we were out with friends and someone said, "I just cannot believe Hillary lost." I replied, "I know. I am devastated." Colby looked stricken. She went over to DM and whispered in his ear, "Why did they want Hillary Clinton to win? She is a liar." Later, Colby told us that Donald Trump was going to build a wall to "protect us" from "bad people" because that is what Pwesidents are supposed to do. DM looked at me and said, "You know how I told you not to write that letter? I changed my mind."

Dear Teacher –

I’m sad to have to write this after having such a pleasant visit with the class on Friday. You seem like a nice person and Colby obviously loves you a lot, but I don’t think this is something that should be swept under the rug. This is about the content, tenor, and very fact of your apparently in-depth conversation with my four year old daughter about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

On election night, Colby shared some of your comments regarding the presidential candidates - that Hillary Clinton is a “liar” and a “bad person,” and that anyone who says bad things about Donald Trump is making it up. She also said something about Donald Trump’s “Wall” and how it would “help people,” but I’m hoping something was lost in translation there.

I have tried, and failed, to understand what would lead you, her preschool teacher, to believe it was appropriate to say these things to my four-year-old child. It is completely unprofessional and totally out of line.

I understand and support the discussion of elections in general terms, even in preschool. It’s an important aspect of American citizenship and I don’t think you’re ever too young to learn what it means to be a productive member of society. As a rule, I try to be honest and straightforward with my children about the goings-on in the world. But while I don’t want them to live under a rock, I don’t think they’re old enough to comprehend an unfiltered account of American politics, particularly the toxic brand exhibited in the 2016 presidential campaign.

I have tried very hard to shield both of my children from the ugliness of this election season. Granted they pick it up outside the home, from friends, relatives, or at school (though I always assumed that would be from their peers, not their teachers!) We don’t watch the news with them, we didn’t let them see the debates, I even switched off NPR in the car whenever a story about the latest election “scandal” came on. They are clearly aware that I prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, and of course they ask why, but in the spirit of not saddling my small children with my own political baggage, the farthest I have gone is to say I prefer Clinton because Trump has said hurtful and disrespectful things about many different groups of people (though, to be honest, my true feelings are much more… colorful). I don’t think reasonable minds can disagree that Donald Trump has said some pretty awful things about many groups of people, including women, gays and lesbians, Muslims, immigrants, and Mexicans, to name a few. So, to hear my daughter say her beloved teacher told her that anyone who says Donald Trump is mean/hurtful/disrespectful is “making it up” really stopped me in my tracks. Essentially, you told my daughter I am a liar.

The poor girl was in tears last night. She is basically having a crisis of conscience because she doesn't understand how two very important people in her life could be telling her opposite things. It has really shaken her. She is too young to learn that adults have just as many flaws and foibles as kids do (a lot more, probably!) If it was just “I choose Trump, you choose Clinton,” that would be one thing. But you have told her that her mother’s candidate of choice is a liar and a bad person, thus calling into question my integrity and judgment.

I understand teachers are people too, with their own values and beliefs. I understand this is a thorny issue, balancing the rights of free speech with the rights of parents to raise their children in the manner they see fit. I understand this is a private preschool, and that the YMCA itself was founded on conservative Christian beliefs. I also understand that, eventually, my children are going to face a full frontal assault from the “real world” and they will have to sift the information they gather there and make their own, informed decisions. What I do not understand is why you, a teacher, and a mother, thought it was okay to put all of that on my daughter’s plate in preschool. How would you feel if the situation were reversed? I can't imagine telling someone else's child that his or her parents' pick for presidential candidate is a terrible person, even if I believed in my heart of hearts it was true. I mean, why don't you just tell her there's no Santa Claus, while you're at it?!

But, since you seem to want to defend Donald Trump to my four year old, maybe you could also explain to her why Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, impose an ideological screening test for immigration, why he claims Islam is synonymous with terrorism, why he plans to make American Muslims “register” in a database, and why his camp is citing Japanese internment as precedent. Keeping in mind Colby’s grandparents are Muslim immigrants from Iran. Not to mention Colby's other favorite, your co-teacher, a Pakistani immigrant.

Maybe you could explain to her why Donald Trump's top Supreme Court picks are openly hostile to the LGBT community, why he has promised to revoke executive orders that protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, and why his vice president Mike Pence believes that homosexuality is a choice and a sin, believes in “conversion therapy,” and passed a law based on a convoluted understanding of “religious liberty” allowing businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Keeping in mind Colby’s uncle (my little brother) is gay, as well as countless other family members, co-workers, and friends.

You could also explain to her why Donald Trump wants to build that border wall. I guess it's because he wants to "protect us" from all those Mexicans rapists, drug dealers, and criminals. And why he wants to create a “deportation force” to deport millions of immigrants and tear millions of families apart. Keeping in mind that nearly forty percent of California’s population are Latino, native and immigrant alike, including our friends, family, co-workers, and your very own students.

Perhaps most importantly, you could explain to my four-year-old daughter why the President-Elect of the United States thinks it’s acceptable to just “grab a woman by the p*ssy,” because when you’re rich and famous, “you can do anything.” Keeping in mind she is a little girl who will one day be a woman. A woman who will, in all likelihood, be treated this way by a man some day, and who will NOT, so help me God, let it slide, nor minimize, legitimize or trivialize it with platitudes like “locker room talk” or “boys will be boys.” I plan to teach my son the same.

I am sure you have your reasons for casting your vote for Donald Trump, and while I vehemently disagree, to paraphrase Voltaire, I will defend to the death your right to cast it. (Okay, that’s a little bit much. Maybe not to the death, but, let's say to my "extreme moral discomfort.") That is democracy, for better or for worse.

However, in the future, if you wish to question my personal political choices, or debate the virtues (or lack thereof) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, please do so directly, and not by using my four year old as your go-between.

The End.

Just kidding. This reminds me - recently a cousin of mine who lives in a red part of (what used to be, sob) a blue state, posed the quandary of what to do if the only qualified and affordable child care you can afford happens to be a proud, card-carrying Deplorable. That's a tough question. I mean, we've had really republican, really religious nannies and babysitters before. And then there's the whole "secular prayer" BS at Jack's school last year. I figure a little religion can't hurt. I actually remember my babysitter as a kid once told me, when I was four, that "Jewish people don't exist." I replied, "Yes they do, because I'm Jewish." I'm not, but, eff that. (I guess there's a certain poetic circle of life vibe to this story after all ;)) Anyway, I guess for me, the rubber hits the road when the person starts negatively shaping my tiny human's little brain. And yes, since I made said tiny humans, I get to subjectively define "negative" in this case. I would say that advocating for a "border wall" to "protect us" from Mexican "rapists and drug dealers," believing a Nazi database for Muslim Americans is warranted, and arguing that gays, lesbians or any other humans are not entitled to equal protection under the laws is where I draw the line in the sand.

Okay, I'm REALLY bad about promises like this but I do think this is my last political post. Probably. Maybe. At least until January 20th. I think :)

Okay this is kind of hilarious. C: Reuters/Dialy Mail. 

2 comments:

  1. Please do tell if that propagandist teacher has any sort of reply for you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ok, so I have to thank you for the post because immediately after the election I felt really guilty for involving my 4 year old in politics. I never said anything bad about Trump, but I took her to 2 Clinton rallies, bought her the Clinton doll, made a copy of my ballot so she could "vote", had her turn our absentee ballots into the ballot box. When she woke in the middle of election night to go to the bathroom, she asked whether Hillary won but I ignored the question and told her to go back to sleep. Anyways, she took the news better than I did and now is back to her preschool routines sans politics.
    I'm sorry you have to deal with this at your kid's school level, and hope you get the principle involved and let your son know that some people don't always do their full research and end up supporting things they will regret later. Hang in there, and know that you don't have to apologize for your political posts, I think we are all still in our grief and trying to brace ourselves for whatever is coming next. Blessings to you.

    ReplyDelete