Today’s weather–rainy, grey, and cloudy mirrors the way that many of us are feeling the day after the 2016 election.
What do we tell our kids today?
How do we answer their questions?
Very honestly, friends.
Though inside I felt shattered, here’s what I told my kids:
What I Told My Children the Day After the Election:
Like many families, our mornings are pretty chaotic.
We allow for just enough time to get up and dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get coats on, and leave the house. So there wasn’t a whole lot of time to chat this morning.
Especially now that I’ve gone back to teaching, I’m more pushy and insistent that everyone is out of the house when we need to be. No more late days. No more running up the street, backpacks half-zipped, hair barely brushed, while the school bell rings.
Now we’re early birds.
Anyway, the first thing out of each child’s mouth was, “Who’s our president?!” And each time, I took a deep breath and said, “Donald Trump won. And everything will be okay.”
I listened for their reaction, trying not to feed them my emotions, and when they said,
- What do you MEAN?
- How is he president?
- Donald Trump is crazy! He’s awful! He yells and screams!
- He hates women! He treats people so bad!
- Down with Trump! Down with Trump!
I said this:
We will be positive.
We still have hope.
We know that we wanted–and thought–Hillary would win, but she didn’t.
We live in a democracy where the majority wins, where everyone has a right to vote, and then we all support the winning vote. And sometimes your side wins and sometimes it loses.
But hopefully–HOPEFULLY–this loss for Clinton will empower lots of people who weren’t otherwise active in politics to become active. To make a change.
And so I do not want to hear negative talk about Trump from here on out, not here or at school or anywhere. He’s our president, and we will speak respectfully of him even though we may not agree with him. And we will, like we always have, do what we can to be respectful of others, to listen to others, and to support those who need a hand.
We will carry on, my little warriors. We will carry on.
Did I say the best thing? No.
Could I have done better? Absolutely.
But it was 7 am, I was up until midnight, I still have a horrible cold, and I was trying to talk myself down from having an anxiety attack.
And? I needed to get out the door so as not to be late for work on week two.
And? I really felt like I could only function in pure ‘move ahead’ mode at that point in time.
PSA: You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to be upset. You are allowed to grieve for a country that you thought was better than it actually is. You are allowed to show your feelings in front of your children. You don’t have to immediately ‘deal with it and move on.’ This gut punch is real. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t checking for you.
It’s good for our kids to see that we’re upset. It’s good for them to see their parents feeling real emotions and expressing them to others.
But friends, we can’t just sit back and mope for the next four years.
I’m going to show my kids Hillary Clinton’s concession speech when they get home from school today.
I think that, hands down, it’s one of the greatest concession speeches of all time. And watching it, for me, was helpful.
I’ll mention how the decision to wear purple shows class.
I’ll mention how respectfully she speaks.
I’ll mention that she says she will ‘accept the result and look to the future’. That she is hopeful.
I’ll point out that she says ‘constitutional democracy demands our participation–not just every four years’. The kids and I can talk about what that means. How we can be involved. How they can be involved.
I’ll point out that she says ‘the American dream is big enough for everyone–every one.’
I’ll ask what the kids think they can do in response to: ‘. . . we must do our part to build the better, stronger, and fairer America that we seek’.
I’ll tell the kids to listen for all the people Hillary Clinton talks to directly, and then we’ll talk about the importance of what she says and why they think she chose to speak to these particular people.
- She thanks the Obamas for their ‘graceful, determined leadership’.
- She tells the young people: I have spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks, sometimes really painful ones. . . You will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts. But please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it . . . and so we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your life’.
- She says: to all the women, especially the young women who put your faith in this campaign and me. I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion. . . We have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling but someday someone will. and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.’
- And especially: To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.’
And her final messages of hope are so important and encouraging. She says:
- ‘I count my blessings every single day that I am an american, and I still believe as deeply as I ever have that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.’
She finally quotes Scripture:
- Let us not grow weary for doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. ‘Have faith in each other let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. There are more seasons to come and more work to do’.
If that’s not exactly what you needed to hear today, friends, then I don’t know what to say.
Sure, we’re disappointed. Confused. Angry. Saddened.
But we need to pick ourselves up, and we need to use our voices.
There are more seasons to come and more work to do.