The Best Thing You Can Teach Your Kids About The Election
Last night, Lady Castleton and I held hands silently as we watched the results roll in. I wanted to cry, but I was too angry.
I went to sleep angry, but I told her it would be OK. She didn’t need me to comfort her. She’s ten times stronger than I am anyway. She was more prepared for this than I was, because she’s lived inside of it. I really haven’t. But I told her it would be okay, and when we finally went to bed around three o’clock in the morning, she pulled me close and tried to believe it.
Ten minutes before writing this, I was holding my three year old daughter, humming softly to her and trying to shield her from the abject misery I feel in my bones. Because I’m concerned about the world she’ll be growing up in. She just smiled, still half asleep, and put a tiara on my head.
“You’re a princess, daddy.” She said.
An hour and a half before that it was still dark outside I had to wake up my thirteen year old son and eleven year old daughter and six year old son and calmly tell them that the election hadn’t gone our way.
I did it calmly, saying that this wasn’t an ideal outcome, but a democratic vote of our fellow citizens was something that makes our country ‘great.’ That the people had made a decision and that we had to abide by that decision. One thing we can take pride in is that we have a smooth transition of power.
From Barack Obama to Donald Trump.
“But was it close?” My eleven year old daughter asked.
“No, baby.” I said. “It wasn’t.”
And then I dropped them off at their respective schools with a smile.
I told them it was going to be alright. Chin up. Work hard. We’ll talk more later.
“What do I do if kids are celebrating about Trump?” My thirteen year old asked before closing the car door.
“You let them celebrate and you say nothing.” I said. “We’ll talk more about it tonight.”
“I’m done with America.” He said. “It’s full of liars.”
And then he walked into his school.
I think it’s important to be strong for your children, and in that I’m just sort of defaulting to my belief that they need to see me being strong to teach them how to be strong.
I don’t feel strong, though. I feel weak. I feel like I’m in a daze.
I don’t believe what happened signifies the greatness of America. I feel like it highlights the problem with the system.
I hear lots of calls about us coming together and right now I can’t see how we do that. I think this may have been a declaration of war. This morning, the people who have given this hollow man control of our nation don’t feel like my “fellow Americans” or “fellow citizens.”
They feel like my enemies.
They have put my family, my friends and this entire world in danger. And for what?
Seriously, for what? I still don’t understand.
This wasn’t just a couple of white supremacists, either. This was millions and millions of people.
And what’s my role in it? How can I take responsibility for what just occurred?
Between Lady Castleton and I, we donated as much as we could, several times to several candidates. We canvassed in swing states, we called hundreds of people. On Monday night I was in Nashua, NH at the Clinton campaign, volunteering. On Tuesday, Lady Castleton called two hundred people in Utah and Nevada, trying to get them out to vote.
We did everything we knew how to do and it still wasn’t nearly enough.
My god. The horror. The horror.
These people don’t want to come together with me because I am repellent to them. I am a bile-spewing know-it-all. And I don’t want to come together with them because they’re ignorant and sexist and racist and xenophobic. I don’t see a bridge. I don’t see a way to compromise because their ‘compromises’ are rooted in religion or uninformed positions or science-free ‘studies’ or just propaganda that they didn’t have the wit or inclination to fact check.
They have just put a mentally ill man in charge of the American military. A narcissist and megalomaniac and compulsive liar will be the commander in chief of a military that is larger than the next five countries put together.
In 77 days, he and people like Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich will take peaceful control of our institutions.
Like the NSA.
And the FBI.
And the CIA.
So what do you say to your children when the brightness and hope of their future has been stolen by people who would see the clocks turned back? How can you explain that flyover country values will, once again, affect everyone? How do you prepare for a future where the President-Elect, a proven liar, was not pressed to elucidate a single national policy decision past telling us to ‘trust’ him? How could we possibly begin to react? We don’t have a road map for any of this.
We can’t discuss the merits of his plan because there is no plan.
There’s just another rich white scumbag with power he doesn’t deserve, bequeathed to him by people who don’t share our values.
“Will we lose our health care, daddy?” My son asked.
No. I told him. We definitely won’t.
“Does this mean Russia will know who our spies are?” My daughter asked. “Will Trump tell them?”
Absolutely not. I said.
“But how do we know that Donald Trump didn’t get any money from Russia if we never saw his tax returns?”
We have to trust that our President-Elect is not a traitor. I said.
I don’t feel good about any of these answers. I don’t feel good about my fellow Americans who made this happen and I know they don’t feel good about me. The problem is that in 77 days, they will hold almost all of the cards. And one has to wonder if they’ll show restraint in persecution after voting a man who is an open advocate of torture into office.
I suspect that millions of Americans like me will have to field a thousand legitimate questions from their children over the next few weeks. I will endeavor to be strong and measured in my responses, lest they spiral out of control like I feel like I want to. They can’t possibly understand the terrifying ramifications of the decision this country has just made and it’s not going to do them any good for me to scare the shit out of them.
But in this brave new world, I suspect that my role as a parent has dramatically just changed. I suspect that Lady Castleton and I will have to sit down and re-think many of our choices, and I suspect that I’ll have to be more mindful of what I write online.
The sun will continue to rise and set and the world will go on. But a shadow has fallen over the land and we, as parents, will have to be stronger than ever. We will have to unite with like minded people in ways he hadn’t previously imagined and we will have to decide what new lessons we will teach our children that we might not have thought they needed before.
The dream of what America might be was crushed last night by people who would see us crushed along with it.
But guess what? We won’t be.
And that’s the best thing you can teach your kids.
We won’t be.
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