What My 10-Year-Old Taught Me About Politics

I will tell you. I’m intimidated to post on this blog. I preach telling fear to take a hike in my classes. I often urge my students to lion’s breath out their greatest impairment, their toxic chains, the ‘I Am Not,’ they most often feed themselves, as in ‘I am not enough, I am not good enough, intelligent enough, important enough, etc’ that keeps them bound to mediocrity. They really get into this. They GRRRR, they HAAAAA, they BLAAAAAAAaaarrrrgggghhhh, with gusto. I sit back and beam like a proud parent. Teaching freedom, I am! Liberation for all!

And then – here I am. Chained by fear. Damn irony.

But she said to write what pours out of me.

So here goes…

What I want to tell you about is my son, the sparkly fella.

He’s at that age {he’s 10}, that curious age, where he really wants to know who’s right, who’s wrong and he wants data. Proof points. Of course, he has no memory gaps. His intelligence is astounding. There are no toxins clouding his system or decades of misuse to atrophy his perfectly forming brain. So he wants facts, which he will promptly commit to memory, and repeat often and at will, so they better be accurate. And furthermore, he’s being raised smack in the middle of a dichotomy…

On one hand, he was born in liberal Austin, Texas, where his father {the self-employed, once-drug-addicted-musician/sound man} still lives. On the other, he is now residing where I was born, Fort Worth, Texas, not exactly a liberal town {read: Far-right-Christian-coalition.} And further, he attends a private school located on the campus of Texas Christian University. Need I say more.

Besides his own father, his two main male influences are my father {refer back to above: Far-right, conservative, hard-core, Fox-News-devotee, conservative} and my husband {oil-and-gas, mostly conservative, hints-of-liberalism-buried-far-beneath-the-surface-and-shhhhh, don’t-tell-anyone-least-of-all him.} And then, there’s me. Oh yes, me. The born-and-raised-Christian-turned-liberal-yoga-teacher-hippie mom.

My son, named Jagger, is suffice it to say a bit lost. And I want to give him accurate information about the election without tainting his own opinion or somehow not allowing him to make his own choice. Oh, how much he values being able to choose! Where did that fire for choice go? I certainly don’t feel it anymore with regards to politics. A conversation in my car heading home from school these days might go something like this…

Jagger: Mom, Who are you going to vote for? Dad says we all need to save our money because if Romney is elected he’s going to tax the middle class so much we’ll be wiped out for good. PeePaw {pet name for my father} says Obama is going to drive this country into the ground. Who are you going to vote for, Mom?

Me: {Hemming and hawing. I have not done my research. I do not want to lead him astray.} I’m not sure, son. {Because I’m not.}

Jagger: Well, do you think Romney is better or Obama? {Innocent, blue-green eyes boring into my soul.}

Me: Jagger, I don’t really know. What I do know is that Romney seems like a polished politician who changes direction to be in favor of whichever audience he happens to be speaking to, and that Obama, while he seems to me to have better moral values, wasn’t quite tough enough on the financial situation when he had the chance to be. I think Obama is more in line with my morals and values as a person, but I think Romney might be able to do a better job with the country’s financial situation.

Jagger, nodding: I understand, Mom. But what I don’t understand is, what is Trickle Down economics?

I do my best to give a cursory explanation, which is a bit rusty given that I haven’t really looked into this since I was taught History of the USSR in 8th grade at my Fort Worth based private school, which preached Reagan-omics or bust until we were all eager to join the right wing ourselves.

Jagger: That makes no sense, mom. Think about it. NFL football players are rich. And they don’t spend money on businesses. For that matter, why don’t teachers make as much money as NFL football players?

Me, blanching. Stunned. Thinking: Damn good question, child. Damn good question.

Jagger continues: I mean, think about it. I think the people teaching the children are more important than some sports player, don’t you?

Me: Yes, I do. {Because I do.}

Jagger: PeePaw says the football players are entertainers and they should make more money because there are so few of them who can do what they do. He says we have too many teachers and we don’t need them all. Do you agree, mom?

I’m shaking my head, thinking of the schools being closed in Austin last year and the hordes of temporary school buildings all over the city: No, Jagger. I don’t. Personally, I don’t care for football. I’d rather that money be going towards education and healthcare.

What I don’t tell him, what I spare him from is the inner most workings of my brain and heart. I spare him because I don’t want to cause him anxiety when he is powerless to do anything; I want him to enjoy his childhood for the few precious years there are left of it. But it goes something like this…

I want to provide for my son. I want to have an economy that feels like it can self sustain if it’s members work responsibly and with integrity. I want women’s rights to be protected, including abortion. I have never elected to have an abortion, but I feel having the choice is important for all women in all circumstances. I can feel that in my bones. I don’t want someone to tell me what religion I should/should not belong to. I want to have options for sending my children to decent schools without having to ask my father for a hand-out and without fearing for their safety. I want to have access to decent healthcare if I should need it. For now, I am healthy. But if me or someone in my family should fall ill, I don’t want to have to slave to worry about receiving adequate care. I just want to focus on healing. I don’t know which candidate {if either} can provide these things.

I don’t spend much time on things like politics. I make it my life’s mission to live from a place of faith and abundance. And given the things I believe {that there is no good/bad, right/wrong or such a thing as a mistake}, I shouldn’t even worry about the election. But my son, my brilliant son, has given me pause and reason to re-consider.

And yet, I am humble enough to know — I still don’t have all the answers. But I will vote with my heart.

photo by: Steve Rhodes