Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Learned All My Curse Words From Elections - And Other Important Lessons

Image courtesy Elections Canada

There is a federal election going on in Canada right now and I want to take the opportunity to teach Big D about the importance of voting. But how do you teach a four year old about the democratic process?

There are four early memories I have about elections during my childhood and since they left a big impression on me, they might have the same affect on Big D.

In no particular order:

I distinctly remember my elementary school gymnasium being used as a polling station and how the teachers almost gave themselves aneurysms trying to get us to keep quiet in the hallways. What on earth was going on? Why were there big black “X”s on the doors? Why were so many cars driving up to our school? It all seemed very important to a kid. I hope Big D’s school will be used as a polling station so he can too get a sense of the importance of the day.

Regardless, I’m going to take him with me when I go to vote. My parents did this with me and while I initially didn’t understand what was going on it was still pretty cool being taken into the voting booth with my mom or dad while they marked their ballots. Hmmm, interest piqued. Must find out more.

My whole family always discussed politics in front of the kids (and not just at election time) and for that I am very grateful. Just by discussing it, it was made clear that they paid attention and took the issues very seriously. I even learned my first swear words listening to my relatives discuss a certain prime minister!

And finally, as a family, we sat around the TV on election night and watched the results come in. The excitement and energy of that night seemed to come right through the TV screen into my family room. It felt like a big deal, especially for a kid.

And of course there was always the chance of hearing more curse words if our candidate wasn’t winning.

I’ll try to keep it clean with my own kids but I’m not promising anything.

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