Politics and Young Children

My guess is this is going to be a tough post to write, but I have to try.  I was driving two children to school today and, as they were buckling their seat belts on the school bus I asked if they knew why today was a big day.  They both said no.  I told them it is Inauguration Day and asked if they know what that means.  Another no.  I told them Inauguration Day is the day we get a new president.  One of the kids then said “Does that mean Donald Trump won’t be President?”  That, of course, lead to the discussion that until now it was “President Elect Trump” and that President Obama would stop being President and Donald Trump would start being President in a few hours.

The next thing one of the children said was “I hope my mommy gets to stay.”  I asked her what she meant.  She said that her mommy has darker skin and that kids say people with dark skin are going to have to leave the country.  Wow.

Clearly the conversation continued and we discussed how her mommy was born in the United States so she automatically has permission to stay.  We talked about how the color of a person’s skin does not define who is or is not a “citizen” and how a person might become a citizen if they are not born here.  It was quite a conversation for a short bus ride.

After I dropped the children off at school I had time to ponder.  I wonder how long she has been nervous about her mom having to leave the country.  Has she discussed this with her family and with her teachers?  As adults we often have no idea what children are thinking about.  We ask questions and get shoulder shrugs and short answers; but, sometimes we get long answers that give us insight into their thoughts.  Sometimes what we learn is wonderful, other times terrifying, and still other times, sad.  BUT, our role as adults is to keep asking, keep conversing and, most importantly, to keep caring.

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