Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Democracy At Home

The beauty of children is that they never cease to amaze me. In this particular case it's my own children who have taken the art of the debate to a new level. Eva and Isaac's gift of bicker has become more and more impressive (if that makes any sense). Last night it was about the election.

Now this is an argument between an 11 year old and a 5 year old. Eva voted for McCain in her class and Isaac voted for Obama. Neither one based their "decision" on any information about the candidates and I have a feeling Isaac voted for Obama because he likes to say "Obama" as evidenced by the Obama song I heard this morning. It only had one word in it - Obama. I had to put a stop to it after about 5 minutes. Nevertheless, his need to stand by his favorite word caused a rift between him and his sister. Not a big surprise, the color of the sky can cause a rift between Isaac and Eva.

Eva did have some knowledge of the candidates mostly received from her classmates because her parents won't let her watch the news as she pointed out for the umpteenth time. The knowledge she received from her classmates was highly inaccurate and it got me to thinking. (And this is where it all becomes a learning experience - for me.) It's true I haven't let the girls watch the news because news of murderers and molesters is disturbing, it evokes fear and I don't want them to have a life based in fear and what could happen. Here's the irony - they are anxious. I could pass this off before, my kids were no more anxious than any other kids out there but then Eva got the diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder. If that's not a slap in the face then I don't know what is.

And Eva's not the only one. Maya was disturbed (ok, genuinely afraid) by the fact that Obama would win and that's not who her parents voted for. I explained to her the beauty of our government. That Barrack Obama was not a "bad" choice for president just because he wasn't our choice. That because of the election process our country is never exposed to the threat of anarchy that no one can just come in and take over. "Does this happen in some countries?" she asked. As a matter-of-fact it does. So we are lucky, we are blessed to live in this country where people vote and make the choice for president and other political offices.

Then there's my son who will be Diego for Halloween when he's 24 years old. Like he said "Mom, I'm ALWAYS going to be Diego, how many times do I have to tell you that?" So perhaps a little fear of change in there along with a dictatorial attitude. He's either going to be a priest or the president when he grows up.

So I had a discussion with my mom this morning. When I need a sounding board of reason my mom is the place to go. She told me that we use to watch the news as kids and it was really no worse than the news today. The girls need to see what's going on and there needs to be a discussion about it if necessary. Even Isaac could handle the news she said. At one point she was yelling at me although she said she just raises her voice when she gets excited. I had to remind her that I did not vote for Obama.

But all political discussion aside I have a point here. While I've been so busy trying to raise my kids in an environment that was safe and nurturing (and not at all democratic) I've overprotected them from life and from learning what legitimate fear is and when we let fear overrun our lives. This is a life lesson I'm trying to learn myself, that if a decision I make is based in fear it's never the right decision. We can't live our lives afraid of what might happen because we'll never have the chance to see what could happen if we do.

It is a painful lesson to learn because as a parent you want so badly to think that you're doing the big things right even though you know that it is impossible to be right all the time. And that's where a little more democracy needs to come into play at our house. If I truly stop and listen to what my kids are saying rather than always putting my foot down then maybe we can work through some of these things together.

And on that note I'll leave you with this thought. You can't possibly always make the right choices but you just have to put one foot in front of the other, say a prayer, and hope that you're next choice will be better.

Now come back tomorrow, I'll try to be funnier.

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