What do we tell the children?

First, a disclaimer: I have not let my 6-year-old watch The Hunger Games, but she does enjoy perusing DVD cases (as well as memorizing movies’ MPAA ratings and years of distribution; the other night she asked what year my mother died and when I replied, she immediately informed me that was when The Polar Express came out; I can only hope the year I meet my maker has some memorable releases). Nor do I believe that children should know everything that is going on in the news (though it is difficult to shield them: When I recently tried to sidestep the reason all three of my kids’ schools were on lockdown with “Someone at Ella’s school did something dangerous,” Maribeth’s immediate response was “I wonder if he had a gun” — which was, sadly, true). Add to this that I am terrible at lying (I about pee my pants sneaking around every Christmas Eve and the night before Easter, and my explanations for the Tooth Fairy’s many failures are downright laughable) and also lame at thinking on my feet and you have the recipe for what went down this morning:

Maribeth (glancing at TV): “The White House!”
Me: “Yes. We’re getting a new president on Friday; that’s what they’re talking about.”
Maribeth: “Oh, is it that guy… the one who’s really…”
Me: *expects to hear “orange”*
Maribeth: “…mean?”
Me: “Who told you he was mean?”
Maribeth: “You did!”
Me: ??? “Oh, I think you’re thinking of President Snow from The Hunger Games.”
Maribeth: “Oh. Is the new President nice?”
Me: “Well, no, not really.”
Maribeth: “What does he do?”
Me: “He says a lot of mean things.”
Maribeth: “Maybe you should be President just kidding Mom.”
Me: *laughs*
Maribeth: “Last year’s President was really nice.”
Me: “Yes.”

 Off we went to school, and then the second-guessing began. I imagined all the Trump supporters in my family and Facebook feed condemning me for poisoning a child’s mind against the incoming President, and I worried that I’d unnecessarily instilled fear in her heart. I wondered what I would’ve said if she’d asked whether Hillary Clinton were nice. I mentally acknowledged that being perceived as “nice” is not the criteria we use for electing leaders. BUT. What I keep coming back to is: Would I want my 6-year-old to emulate anything in that man’s character? Maybe someday we will live in a world where we ask ourselves that simple question, and if the answer is “HELL NO!” that candidate is out of the running. But in the meantime (and it is a mean time), I guess we have to use the ubiquitous bad examples as teaching moments. So Maribeth: Watch the orange man — that’s not how we act.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *