The two passengers in my backseat craned their necks to see what all the commotion was about. “Mommy! Look at all those signs! Who is Rudy?”
The neighborhood clubhouse, normally a sleepy little building, with the occasional elderly resident stopping in for a little workout in the heated pool, was abuzz with the excitement of the Primary vote. Cars filled every parking space, with a few extra spilling out onto the manicured lawn. We secured a spot, and I barked out “EVERYONE HOLDS MY HAND, AND I DON’T CARE IF YOU ARE EIGHT!” We have a few mature drivers who can no longer see over the steering wheel, yet still continue to operate a 15 ton cadillac.
With my entourage of two in tow, we patiently stand in the correct line that corresponds with our last name. After verifying my identity, the volunteer hands me my voting folder. She appeared dubious for a moment, as she looked at my drivers license picture. It was taken when I was pregnant with Emme. Nine years, three children, and a near nervous breakdown have done little to preserve my youth. She asks if I understand the voting procedure. I nod my head yes, no hanging chads here, fill in the oval completely. Check.
Up until now, my daughters have been unusually quiet. As I stand at the voting booth, the inquiry begins. “Mom, who is John F. Kennedy?” I’m surprised by the question, as we haven’t quite gotten that far in American History. Emme then points to the mock voting ballot in front of me, as a reminder to fill in the oval completely. In rather large print, the candidates read:
•Dwight D. Eisenhower
•John F. Kennedy
•Franklin D. Roosevelt
Now there’s an impressive group. How do you narrow that list down to one? I was awfully glad that my ballot was a much easier choice.
I had been preparing them for voting day. We’ve been discussing democracy, the upcoming presidential election, and how blessed we are to live in a country where we are free to have a say in who runs our country. Fiddledaddy and I openly discuss politics in our home. Thankfully, we are usually in agreement as to which side of the fence where positioned. One thing that we strive to instill in our children, though, is a respect for the person in the oval office. Even when we don’t always agree with them. No name calling this election year in the House of Fiddle. Even if we’re vehemently opposed to a candidate.
I have little memory of my parents ever discussing politics when I was growing up. I know that my mother was a big supporter of John F. Kennedy. And she never really got over his assassination. I was a child of a little over 2 when he was killed. We were living in Fort Worth at the time. I don’t have any actual memories of the day, but my mother discussed it at length while I was growing up. And recently, I found journal entries that she wrote about what she felt on that fateful day.
I don’t recall her ever voting in any other election after that. She never again became emotionally invested in another candidate.
I did, however. In 1968, I remember well, standing on the playground of my parochial school. Some of the older kids were “voting” for the two presidential candidates at the time. They instructed the younger students to go and stand in the line of their desired candidate. I hightailed it over to Richard M. Nixon’s line. Because it was more popular. And that was the line that Mickey Reddy was standing in. I was thrilled when Nixon indeed won. He was “my” choice. My standards for chosing a candidate have since evolved. Relax exit poll taker.
I also remember being crestfallen, when Nixon resigned, in disgrace, in 1974.
I want my children to embrace the importance of their voice in our nation’s politics. And that’s why we’ll probably always drag them with us to the voting booth. Until, they are of age to make their own decisions.
As we were leaving the poll, the volunteer stationed at the door to collect the ballot, gave all three of us a sticker that read, “I Voted!” Holding hands, we walked out to the parking lot. Unexpectedly, Emme chirped, “I hope that we have a woman president someday.”
“I do too, honey.” But, just not this year.
I’m glad that my children are growing up in a nation that will very likely vote a woman, or a minority into office in their lifetime. This country has come a long way.
And, God willing, we still have a long way to go.