“Think positive thoughts and be kind.”
These were my parting words for my 11 year old as he left for school yesterday morning.
He doesn’t know it, but I heard him crying in the bathroom after I told him Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
The night before the election, we talked about the questions on Maine’s ballot. They studied the issues in his 6th grade social studies class. As always, I was impressed by his knowledge. He gave me extra insight on how I should vote. We talked about knowing the facts and being prepared before heading to the polls.
I could’ve voted before Tuesday. I drive by the town hall almost every day. I could’ve easily walked on over during my work day to cast my vote early.
But I wanted to share the historic Election Day with my boys.
They knew it was a big day. They knew it was the first time a woman’s name would be on the ballot as a presidential option. G pointed out that there were two women on the ballot. I was emotional and excited.
My boys made me breakfast in the morning – toast and eggs – and then we headed out to vote. My almost 8 year old lamented that kids weren’t allowed to vote. It was a special day. No school because my town votes at the junior high school. We raked leaves and enjoyed time outside for the rest of the gorgeous November day in Maine.
I almost never miss an Election Day, big or small. I almost always bring my kids with me. I talk about how it is our civic duty to vote. How we have a voice and should use it – all the time, not just during an election. I bring them with me to volunteer. Due to the nature of my work in the nonprofit sector and my love for global development, they probably know more about substance abuse treatment, homelessness, clean water access and sanitation than most kids.
I didn’t talk to them a whole lot about the election or the candidates, but they knew what each represented.
On Tuesday night, G asked a lot of questions about what would happen if Trump became president. He wanted to know how he would be affected. We talked about democracy and how the president doesn’t truly have total power. I assured him that we would still have a voice, and it was up to us to use it. We talked about the importance of paying attention to who is representing us locally and nationally. We talked about the huge responsibility of the president to appoint Supreme Court justices.
Like many Americans, I stayed up late watching coverage of the election. I was in complete awe of what was happening. I was fearful but remained just a tad hopeful. I wondered what I would say to my kids the next morning. I woke up knowing my phone would probably have an AP alert on it telling me Trump was our newly elected president.
While my boys were disappointed, I told them we needed to honor our new president and allow him to lead. We needed to give him a chance and be hopeful that he saw how many Americans did not agree with his beliefs and his behavior. And if he didn’t, we will be active, use our voice and stand up for our fundamental beliefs. For humanity. While I grieved inside, I did not want my kids to worry or feel like we should lose hope.
I think it is fitting that November 13th is World Kindness Day, a global celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good for twenty-four hours.
Oh, how we all could use a day of focused kindness right about now.
And while there is much work to be done in the future, hatred and negativity is sure to get us nowhere.
Think positive thoughts and be kind, my friends.