I asked my 12 year old daughter, “Do you want to come with me when I vote?”
She asked, “What would I do?”
“Watch me vote!” I said.
“Voting is a private thing,” she replied. “Plus, I voted yesterday at school.” And in typical 12 year old girl fashion, she explained at length the voting process her middle school used.
I then went to ask my 9 year old daughter. “Do you want to go with me when I vote?”
“Will it be scary?” she asked with a mock scared face. She was just kidding. She then peppered me with questions. “Where are you voting?” (her school) “Why?” (because it’s my polling place) “Is Lily going?” (No) “Then I don’t want to go because I already know what it looks like and it’s boring.”
Why does she know what voting looks like? Because I vote at every election, and have had to take them with me often. Ed works 10 hour days, and that doesn’t include travel. I have dragged two little girls with me to the polls and cajoled them with lollipops while the election judges handed them stickers. When they were a little older, they brought along a book to read. Once, an election judge told me I filled out the entire sheet for reelecting judges incorrectly, and it wouldn’t count. I had the option to redo it, but I declined. I had two little girls impatiently waiting for me.
On lesser election days, I breathed a sigh of relief when the girls were older and they were in school. I was able to go vote all by myself!
On presidential election days, like today, school is cancelled for safety reasons. If my girls wanted to go vote with me, I would gladly take them. They have heard Ed and me talk about the issues, agree and disagree with each other, and they know how important having a voice really is. But I’m also not going to force them to go to our polling place with me. They would probably still respond well to a lollipop, and they would be much better behaved than they were when they were 1 and 4 years old. However, they are old enough to stay home for a few minutes while I walk down the street to vote. And I did give them the choice. Isn’t that what elections are all about? Having a choice?
[Tweet “Voting mother: you are brave, you are strong, you are making a difference.”]
So yes, I’m missing out on that selfie with my daughters at my voting place. I applaud all of you who do take your children to vote, whether by choice or necessity. I applaud those of you with young children who stand at the voting booth with one hand on a stroller and another sticky little hand reaching up to pull at your shirt. You are brave. You are strong. And you are making a difference.