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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Jewel in the Sandbox

children mentioned and pictured...

The underwire in my bra was driving me crazy today--I still haven't gotten a new one--so I nipped into the preschool bathroom after I picked up the twins' bags and slipped it off. I dropped it inside the ChickieNob's tote next to her dot paintings and yanked back on my pullover. I had so many layers on, you couldn't really tell and we went home--the parents at the preschool none-the-wiser and my breasts thanking me for their release from the underwire from hell.

When we were walking up to the house, the ChickieNob asked for her bag and without thinking, I gave it to her. She peered inside and smiled at me slyly: "I think I see a little jewel in here, Mommy!"

She turned out to be speaking about a piece of sequins that she had found buried in the sandbox that morning--apparently her eye skipped over that massive expanse of cloth and wire that was draped over her art project. Apparently, her teacher hides beads in the sandbox and calls them jewels and the kids can dig for them at outdoor playtime. The whole moment tied in to the story I was trying to tell them at lunch before we went over to vote.

Four years ago, Obama was relatively unknown. I remember first seeing him during Convention coverage. Who was to know then that we had found the jewel in the sandbox or the bra in the totebag? Just an ordinary man, half-hidden. Someone essentially in plain sight if we'd just notice. And now, he is this receptacle for all of our hopes; this tangible reminder of the excitement of possibility.

The twins and I had a final long talk about McCain and Obama during lunch before we went to vote. A few years ago, I worked for a school with this headmistress that the parents despised. They finally succeeded in getting her removed from the school and that afternoon, this mother stood near the carpool line passing out buttons that said, "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead." What kind of message did she send her child? What message did all the parents who wore that button send to their children?

That having a difference in vision is bad? Makes you evil--wicked witchlike? I didn't love the headmistress either, but I do like to save labeling people as pure evil for those who actually are pure evil.

Josh and I have been careful to explain that the difference between McCain and Obama is that Obama matches our way of seeing the world more than McCain. That it's not a matter of right or wrong or better or worse--simply two different visions of the best way to help America and we align ourselves more with one way over the other. And regardless of who wins, we still need to keep doing what we're doing to help the world.

We waited for a little under an hour on line along with a bunch of elderly men and women who were entertained as the Wolvog tap danced and show them his belly ("I think you all want to see this--it's my belly!") and the ChickieNob swung from every available railing. They finally rounded up their performance by running up a flight of stairs and calling out to everyone from the landing, "Mommy is an Obama Mama Mama Mama!"

I wanted to take a photo of our hands voting, but the volunteers wouldn't let me take out my camera. There was this freeze-frame moment in my heart where I saw their little finger pressing down the square next to Obama's name (all three of us had a turn checking off the box and then unchecking it to give the next one a try) and it was as if I was watching a pen race across a piece of paper, writing out the history books they'll bring home when they're in high school. They just made history. I know every day is a moment in history and we are all constantly living history, but this moment was different.

I could imagine myself years from now at the kitchen table, helping them study for an exam, and telling them about how I held them up so they could vote for Barack Obama. I became very emotional staring at the ballot, trying to imagine how the next four years will look, the next eight years, the next twelve years until we get to that homework assignment and I pull out the photographs I took outside the polling place, our "I voted!" stickers on display.

When we got home, we were washing our hands and the ChickieNob repeated the idea we had spoken about at lunch and said, "Obama is the jewel in the sandbox, you know."

Please don't ever forget that lesson, sweetie. That idea is more important than who wins or loses today. Don't ever overlook someone because they may be the person who ends up holding your hope. And don't forget all the talks we've had due to the election about how we want to treat other people. That is my biggest fear for all of us--that once we vote, we will forget about all of the excitement and not actually carry through with the change we all spoke about in the run up to this day.

I was so incredibly moved by my cousin--who is known in our house as Aunt Li-Li--who temporarily left her job and home to go live in Florida and work for Obama's campaign. She grabbed this chance to honestly make a difference (and who better to explain the issues to your Bubbe then my sweet little cousin) and did so by taking an enormous step outside her world in order to help many more. I love her for that.

I'm not just on pins-and-needles tonight waiting to see the results come in; I'm on pins-and-needles to see if America can be the change we wish to see. And I also am on pins-and-needles to get out to the lingerie store tomorrow. It's all about simple needs.


luna said...

I sure hope we can be the change we wish to see. love the jewel in the sandbox.

I also took a picture of my ballot, it felt that good for a change.

and I really need new bras too.

Heather said...

I voted today too! Glad to hear you take great care in explaining your views and the importance of voting to your children. I can't wait to see what's going to happen tonight from the polls!

Enjoy your new bra too when you get it. Nothing is worse than bad foundation garments.

Mrs Captain Jack Harkness said...

I'm an Obama Mama too!

(Free the Pee!)

beagle said...

That is a wonderful lesson: Differnt is not evil or wrong, it's just differnt.

After you finish that IF book you ought to write the next best seller parenting book.

Happy Bra shopping!

Anonymous said...

If only I could vote.....

Sounds like you are raising some very level headed (if a tad exhibitionist) children.

Here's to a job well done.


nancy said...

You've got some bright kids to pull together ideas like that. ~smile~

littleangelkisses said...

Boo went with me too! I woke him up and told him we get to vote today. He was excited. He wanted to know why Barack wasn't there though...."how will he know we voted for him if he's not here?"

Ahhh, sweet boy, he'll know, I promise!

Samantha said...

It's such an amazing election - and things are looking very good for Obama right now!

I hate underwire bras - I just avoid them entirely!

Beautiful Mess said...

Hopefully your bra choice will be as easy as your presidential choice. I filled out my ballot with my daughter, it was an AMAZING experience! Good luck tomorrow!

Jen said...

I always cut the underwire out of my bras. Much more comfy.

LJ said...

I firmly believe that a good bra is as important as a good haircut for self esteem

Somewhat Ordinary said...

You brought tears to my eyes. It is very important for us to remember that different doesn't mean bad or wrong.

I wanted to take Baby M, but didn't think a 7 month old would last too long in the line. I made sure he wore my sticker when I picked him up in the afternoon and when the results came in I went and kissed him to let him know the world had changed for him. Although we won't talk about his dad dancing around the living room before the numbers were really coming in cheering that McCain was gonna win. Sorry, Daddy, it looks like the Obama Mamma won in our household!

Io said...

Bwahhhh....Every time I think I am done crying from the emotion of it all...
I hope someday I have children who I can tell yesterday to.

Elizabeth said...

I love that the stickers are bilingual!!!

Love this series of posts. Your kids are amazing.

DrSpouse said...

Mr. Spouse was volunteering with the Obama campaign, too, but he can't work here, and he met some other people who'd taken leave from their jobs to volunteer.