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Ballot Chasing

Mason listens to me talk about politics every day of late. Actually, he has listened to me talk politics every day of his life. I've taught him that everything he believes, supports, and encourages as a part of his whole person are his politics. We talk about food politics, social politics, and racial politics. He asks me about what I think is important and I share it with him and then I ask him the same questions. The funny thing about parenting small children is that you're actually teaching them how to be adults with politics someday and then BAM! you look up and they're ready to vote and they ask you to help them register. This comes after years of watching C-Span, reading as many global newspapers as possible, and flipping cable news channels so that you can hear multiple views. (Okay, three. Three views.)

Our family history is politically mixed. (I am resisting other puns here.) We have far more Democrats that Republicans on record, though my great-aunt Agnes served for 6 years as a Republican State Representative of South Dakota. We're also far more Catholic than anything, too, but even that is just a part of it. Buddhists, atheists, and the occasional Protestant are in there, too. When your family origins include continents of Africa and Europe you're bound to find this is the case, though, and Mason has a clear understanding of the history of whence we came.

So it should come as no surprise that how I parent my children includes having them pay attention to what goes on in our government. That's a part of parenting.

He watched as President Obama signed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Recovery Act and he heard me sigh with relief when I told him how he would have insurance to cover his health care until he turns 26. We both watched the news together as the President ended the war in Iraq. Mason only cared about the auto industry because The Cuban worked in it before moving here and had plenty to say about saving the American autoworker jobs. Mason was relieved himself to find out that Pell Grants would be supported for his own college costs and he was surprised to learn that I got my undergraduate degree with the help of Pell Grants. When he heard friends of ours complain that the President didn't care about small businesses I pointed out that Obama has signed 18 tax cuts for business owners in the last 4 years.

So, this morning when I went to volunteer for ballet chasing at the Organizing for America campaign, I assumed Mason would want to know about it. I didn't assume, however, that he'd want to get out of bed (even with an extra hour) and come along with me. Organizing for America is the Obama grassroots campaign where we made calls to people who got their voter ballots by mail so we could remind them when they needed to be postmarked. Cold calling, as you might guess, isn't as fun as it sounds but I have some experience as an assistant principal making phone calls to people who sometimes don't want to be reached. (The trick? Smile while you're talking. They can hear in your voice that you mean no ill will. I swear this works.)

After being there for only 15 minutes Mason texted me to ask the address so he could come over and help. That's all it took. FIFTEEN MINUTES of me being gone from home before my son decided he wanted to be a part of this. Stuff like this is hard for him because he's painfully shy and gets anxious doing social things, but he came by and got out of his comfort zone to help. At first, he listened to the buzz in the room of other volunteers as they made calls and chatted with one another. There was a lot of support in that room and people said things like, "Don't get discouraged with a hang up call" and "Someone help me pronounce this name correctly" and "Democracy doesn't work if information isn't real or truthful" and a myriad of other things. People were more nice than not on the phone and it helped to hear us laughing together when one of the volunteers accidentally said, "I love you" at the end of a phone call. (Confession: I have done that before while talking to parents of my students on the phone. It's weird every time but I always laugh when I get over the embarrassment of it.)

Naturally, he laughed at the old school Nokia phones we were using but then said that made sense because they're still considered to be one of the better battery-life phones available. He got situated next to me and listened to me call people but he also got to be in a room with the rest of the volunteers who are supporting President Obama in this election. On one call I made the woman said, in a thick accent, "I don't speak English." so I quickly said, "Un momento, pro favor." and quickly handed the phone to Lilliana who was sitting close by me. She finished the call for me and told me to mark them off as an Obama supporter and then said to me, "How did you know I spoke Spanish?" to which I had a rather silly response of "I could hear it in your accent when you came in that you spoke it." She was somewhat surprised because she hadn't even said two words to me when she walked in.

I do a lot of things wrong as a parent. Heck, I do a lot of things wrong as a human being. But I know that talking to my children about politics and the things that are important to me including where my money goes and how I spend my free time and what people I will fight for don't go unnoticed by my children. My early voting is done already because The Cuban will be unable to vote with me on Tuesday so we went early. (He voted Democrat for the first time ever. He says it's because he met me and that I'm, well, vocal and persuasive.) I tried really hard not to give Mason some generic "civic duty" speech about today because it was more than that. He believes, like I do, that governance shouldn't insist that Christian values rule the land and make policies about gay people getting married. He understands civil rights in those terms but disagrees that we should do something as disrespectful as vote on their ability to do so. Mason knows the limitations of the popular vote and the power of the electoral college.

I've had 20 years to be his mom and love him and teach him things that I deem important. Things like the Golden Rule, having compassion for people even when you don't know them, and figuring out your own true passions and talents to help your community and make the world a better place than how you found it. Also, how to live in a blended family and why you have to pitch in with cleaning the house and when you need to extend grace to people because, most of the time, they don't deserve it but we all need it. And how to balance your emotions and deal with difficult friends and when to escape in a really good book.

Today was a new one for us. For me, as a mom, and for him as my son who went way beyond the boundaries that he planned for the day. We chased ballots of American voters and reminded them to turn them in, but maybe it wasn't so new after all. We just spent a grey, cloudy Sunday morning together talking about what's important and how many times have we done that just sitting at home on our couch? Plenty. Volunteering for something like this was just another part of the parenting that I've been doing for more years than I've done anything else. Just a small part, I'll admit, but wow, did it ever feel pretty huge.

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Reader Comments (8)

Awww!! You rock. The both of you.

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCynematic

Y'all are beautiful inside and out. We have just begun to really talk and listen to our kids (8 year olds) about politics and how they affect our everyday lives. I hope my kiddies turn out like Mason! You guys are awesome! xoxo

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

[...] Ballot Chasing, from MochaMomma So it should come as no surprise that how I parent my children includes having them pay attention to what goes on in our government. That’s a part of parenting. [...]

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWhy I’m Supporting Presi

Wow...I have been so impressed watching Mason evolve into this incredible young man over the years. XXOO :)

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTammyD

Wonderful post. So proud of both of you.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlennia

Great blog!!!

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudith

That is just beautiful! It made me hopeful in the next generation; and hopeful that when my lil woman is older (she's 9)- we will share such awesome experiences.....

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephany

and as you can see, you can use them for fall decorating too! All year round I've used Epsom salts to sulmiate snow or sand. I love the candy corn. You could try coffee beans, shells, jelly beans, marbles, cranberries

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTsiry

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