children mentioned and photographed...
For the first time, I have the option to vote without the Wolvog and ChickieNob. I can drop them off at preschool, nip over to the polls, and still have enough time to grab a salted caramel hot chocolate at the nearby Starbucks before picking them up. It would certainly be easier on my back because I wouldn't have to pick them up to push the buttons. It would ensure a little more privacy since they have a tendency to shout my voting record over the side of the booth.
So let's just get that out of the way then: I'm voting for Obama.
Up until this point, they have voted with me out of necessity. Due to my neuroses as well as my limited child care coverage, we're sort of a package deal. In 2004, I strapped on my Maximom and walked down the street to the elementary school like an enormous opossum. Except for the fact that I couldn't really see over their heads to view the voting machine, it was an excellent plan.
They came with me to the primaries a few months ago and informed the room who I thought would make the best candidate for sheriff. Since February, every time we pass our polling place, they ask if it is time to vote again. They solemnly inform people trying to buy heads of lettuce at the food store that their "mommy is voting for Obama." Interestingly enough, while McCain refers to Obama as "that one," my children refer to Palin as "that woman."
This election kicked off a host of discussions including why women shouldn't just blindly vote for someone because they're a woman (a message the ChickieNob passed along to the poor, unsuspecting people at the library who were waiting to check out books and heard, "you shouldn't vote for that woman because she wants to control your body and I think she's against My Little Pony too") as well as why preschool classmates sometimes switch over mid-year when their parents lose their appointments.
It also kicked off a host of less illuminating moments such as the time that we told the kids that all of the traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike was caused by the man driving the car with the "Nobama" bumper sticker and they wailed at the man each time we inched past him during the hour-long congestion.
It is interesting to see how their experience of elections growing up in the DC Metro area differs from my own experience growing up. We talked about it in school and we voted in our Weekly Readers and I knew which kids had parents who worked for government and therefore probably wouldn't make the best friends because they'd be possibly moving every four years. Politicians were not these remote figures you saw only on the news. They were the parents of my friends or the friends of our parents. But government is the backdrop for the area so it didn't really register. I didn't know who my parents voted for and I don't remember looking forward to going to vote (maybe because there were no buttons to press as there are now).
The ChickieNob and Wolvog have election overload. They can read everyone's name because they've seen it constantly on lawn signs and newspaper covers, but they're also bombarded with Obama's funky "O" and McCain's little star every time they open up Firefox so they can play the Wonder Pets game. They hear way too much and I haven't even turned on NPR in months. They ask why does the President's house have to be white and what is a tax and why is John McCain so old?
I simply have no memory of being this attune to the election season.
The reason I'm having them vote with me tomorrow is not because I want to use the preschool hours to work on the LFCA or because I want to educate them on their civic duty or because they are such a good source of entertainment for my neighbours that I hate to take their comedy routine away from them. These are all good reasons, but I am taking them to vote because of a referendum that was struck from the ballot at last minute this summer but which we have been promised will still have petitioning and picketing outside of the polling station.
There is a group aiming to overturn a bill that gives equal rights to those who are transgendered or transsexual. The protest focuses on the issue of bathrooms and they have been petitioning outside of local food stores for months, trying to get transgendered and transsexual men and women banned from public bathrooms. Without really touching on who is being targeted, we used the whole brouhaha to explain to the twins why they need to treat everyone fairly and never make someone feel wrong for being themselves. We explained that everyone needs to pee and everyone needs to be potty-trained and everyone needs access to a bathroom. If not, they get urinary tract infections. Essentially, these people want others to be in tremendous pain from a UTI AND feel ashamed for who they are.
And it doesn't matter if they are speaking about a group you belong to or not. It is important to protect everyone because you never know when you will need protection too. People who are willing to treat one group unfairly are most likely willing to treat a multitude of groups unfairly. And our focus is not on trying to change the unfair, smallminded, idiotic people in this world, but instead, to lend support, time, our words, our energy to making sure the rest of the people in this world are kept safe from mean words, mean actions, and UTIs.
We also told them that if anyone approached us with the petition and Mommy gave the signal, they should scream, "free the pee!" and make a pissing sound while dancing around. While I can't get away with this, they certainly can.
Hence why I need them to come with me to vote.