Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dedicating My No-Trump Vote

This summer, on a cross-country road trip from California to Vermont, we stopped in New York City to drop off our oldest daughter at a ballet program. After our tentative and tearful goodbyes, we left her and went to Brooklyn to stay with friends before the last leg of this very long trip. In the middle of the night, I got a text from my twelve-year-old daughter in the other room. She’d had a nightmare. (Long gone are the days of her navigating her way through the dark and curling up with us in our bed.)

I figured she might be missing her sister, who would be gone for the next five weeks. Or maybe she was simply disoriented in our friends’ son’s room. Regardless, the texts were full of sad emojis and pleas for me to come to her.

She’s twelve now. Not quite child, not quite teen. Twelve: that precipicial age for girls, somewhere between playing dressing-up and worrying about dress codes. With an older sister, she straddles the realms of childhood and adulthood, always walking that precarious tightrope.

She’s just now coming into consciousness of the world beyond her own imagination. She’s bright and beautiful, sensitive and strong. She’s the only vegetarian in the family and an outspoken feminist. She is a fierce and loyal friend, a lover of animals, and an artist. She will, one day, be an incredible woman. 

But that night, she was a child. Scared and sobbing.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, curling up with her on the bottom bunk.

“I had a really bad dream.”

I nodded and yawned, snuggled in deeper, waiting for the nonsensical musings about dream monsters. But she was silent.

“What was it?” I asked.

“At school, we’re learning about times in history, when things were terrible. Like for a hundred years. Do you know about that?”

“Sure,” I said, thinking of the Dark Ages, the Holocaust, the Plague, slavery.

“I feel like we’re in one of those times, Mom.”

My heart thunked in my chest.

“And I’m scared. There’s so much suffering. People are poor and sick and hurting. And he doesn’t care.”

“Who?”

Donald Trump.”

Damn it.

“What if he becomes our president, Mom?”

I am a writer. My words are my only strength. I use them to argue, to persuade, to explain, to comfort. And so I spouted off something about the limited power of the executive branch, explaining to her that those things she feared couldn’t possibly happen. (“If he builds that wall, I’ll never see my friends who live in Tijuana again,” she cried.) I found myself treating Donald Trump like any other bogeyman. Something to be dismissed. Something unreal. Something conjured by a child’s vivid and awful imagination.

But none of it was registering with her. Nothing could persuade her. My words were rendered impotent by whatever portentous dream she’d had.

“I need you to think of kindness,” I tried instead. “Of all the goodness in the world. Of all the love. Because it’s bigger than he is.”

Together we talked about the good hearts we knew. And finally, exhausted from the long drive and the emotional goodbye to her sister and that horrible dream, she started to drift off to sleep again. But I returned to bed, still trembling.

It is my job as a mother to keep my daughters safe. To empower them. To teach them independence and self-reliance. It is my job to slay the bogeymen with my words. But he is real. And I am also scared.

And so it is with these humble weapons I dedicate my #notrumpvote to my daughters. 


#DedicateYourNoTrumpVote
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3 comments:

Angie Myer said...

Thanks Tammy! I had a similar story I shared to the email provided:
"My son is 8. We teach him to respect authority, be kind to everyone and always do your best. Clearly not the year to also try to introduce him to our political process. Last summer he was bombarded with messages of a man doing and saying horrible things ...and winning. "Look to the heroes" we would tell him, echoing Mr. Rogers. But he kept winning and my husband and I were getting worried ourselves.

Monday night he watched some of the debate, a homework assignment. During Trump's tirade about the "thousands and thousands of murders" occurring (of which he repeated multiple times!), my son suddenly looked up at me and said "Mom, I'm scared." "Why baby?" "He's talking about really scary things!" That's when I whisked him out of the room to read Harry Potter (and a less scary evil???), explaining that Trump is trying to scare people and it's not quite that bad. And "these are grownup problems to worry about and solve. This is why we're voting for Hillary, so she can solve them and not be scary anymore."

But I was mad. Mad like I am when I horror movie commercial interrupts our family programming. Mad for exposing my innocent child to the horrors of the world before he's ready and able. We CANNOT have a leader who would continue to do this. It's manipulative and dangerous and not what the U.S. is about. Fear and evil cannot win.

I'm With Her. Stronger Together!"

T. Greenwood said...

<3 to you and your smart and sweet son.

MP MP said...

Just pre-ordered The Golden Hour!!! Comes out next week!
Can't wait! T. Greenwood is my favorite author!!