Wednesday, 29 October 2008
One Kind Favor
By B.B. King
I just got in from my volunteer time at Hoops and Miss A's school. I work the language arts center for the second grade teacher. They are having class elections and our center was to write about: If I was The President. Now these are 7 and 8 year old kids and this is an election year that has become a very heated and emotional election for many people.
The children have been hearing the TV, the radio, and their parents talking about the candidates and the propositions. Miss A was watching the world series with us and a commercial came on about prop. 8. She shook her head and said. "Mom, why can't they make up their minds?"
"Why can't they make up their minds about what honey?"
"Well...first they say yes on 8 and then they say no on 8. Why can't they make up their minds?"
I spoke to her about elections and voting as we have through out this election year and the roll that the TV media plays. She understood it to a small point, but we move on from this one until the next question comes up and we begin again.
Today in her second grade class I was helping brainstorm with the students at my language center what they could write about to express what they would do if they were the President of the United States of America.
"What would you do," I asked? Would you want to help people find jobs who had none? How would you do that? One child said he'd give everybody a job.
"Simple," he stated.
"Well you have to have jobs to give people jobs, so would you create jobs for these people? How would you do that?" We were discussing these things and I heard the children at the art center with no parent helper, in a heated discussion about McCain and Obama. They had brought their parents opinions to class. Now both the children are great kids. They were at this moment very upset, because if they agreed with each other, they wouldn't be agreeing with one of their parents.
"My mother said that Obama kills babies!"
"Well my dad said McCain is crazy!"
I wanted to slap both their parents. These children were close to tears and I could feel my heart going out to both of them. They are 7 and 8 year old children. I looked toward the teacher who was in the middle of reading with her center and she gave me a concerned questioning look. I excused myself from my center and walked over to the children and calmly told them that they were at the art center and I would appreciate it if they could stop talking adult politics since neither one of them were old enough to vote and they had a few years to figure out how they felt about how the country should be run.
"When you get to my center well talk a bit more, but for now I'm going to request that this conversation that is clearly upsetting you, come to a stop."
Thank goodness these kids know and respect me, because they wiped their eyes and got back to making their election buttons for the class election. When they got to my center I made a bit of a speech about the election to help ease the tension and to teach the small lesson that even us adults tend to forget.
"I want to thank you for being so good about stopping your argument about the candidates for our Presidential election that is coming up. I know you have heard many things in your home about how your parents feel about this election and the men running for President. There is a reason that you can not vote for a President until you're older, because first you need to learn more about how your nation and the world works. You kids say the U.S.A. and I hope you have learned that that stands for The United States of America. United means we come together for the good of all the people. I want you kids to know that when the elections are going on, we adults each have our own idea about who should run our country. Both of the candidates are human men. They don't believe the same things but they never would have gotten to where they are unless many people believed in their ideas. What you may not understand is that after the election our country is still The United States of America and we can come together to keep making it a great place to be. No matter who our President is, you kids can get along and work together to make your school a wonderful place to be. That's really your job for now."
I could hear the sighs of relief from these children. They are children who are in a time that is so full of stress and anger and they pick it up from their adults and take it so seriously. They bring it to school. They want their parents to just be happy again. I don't really know what to say beyond this, but if you know a child go hug them. If you're talking about the election with them in the room or to them directly, please remember that you too are part of The United States of America and these children are the future. Let them have their childhood. The world will confuse them enough later and by then, if "we the people" are lucky, they'll have something to offer other than anger toward each other.