By now, we’re all getting used to a certain very-thin-orange-skinned businessperson being elected President of the United States. It’s still a bit hard to contemplate what happen and what is about to happen, especially for those who loathe the man and are truly afraid of how he may govern. Yeah, the next four years are a rather scary thing to think about.
For certain, us grownups have various feelings about what happened on Election Night and what’s yet to come. But you also have to look at the feelings and concerns of those who are not yet old enough to vote… as well as the various teachers and educators whose job is to not only teach them math and reading and comprehension, but to also help mold them and guide them into the responsible adults they will become. It’s a safe bet that on November 9 and ever since then, they have all had their own individual worries, concerns, or whatever about this monumental moment in our nation’s history.
My male-mode volunteer side (more on him in a moment) had his interest really piqued by this “Round Table” assembly on Man Repeller with various teachers and educators from across the country. They range from preschool to college teachers, private to public schools, and “red county” and “blue county” locales. And just as they have real feelings and concerns about the outcome, so do many of their students. Some kids are afraid, scared, even lashing out in anger. A few others, though, don’t seem to care or cannot yet comprehend the situation (one teacher offers a moment of a kid screaming “Donald Duck won!”). Many of those interviewed freely discussed the election’s aftermath with their kids, many of whom can’t comprehend the whole presidential electoral process (a feeling many grownups may share, to be honest); others didn’t broach the very sensitive subject at all, by edict or by choice. And a few mentioned the importance of having respect and showing empathy and tolerance to their students, including respect for those who are not white or male and those who are not native-born Americans or whose culture did not originate in the U.S.
As for me… As I noted in the past, Male Mode Me has put in volunteer work in several elementary school classrooms around Madison. In fact, I am currently in the middle of a 1-hour-a-week-over-5-weeks session instructing kids on various things about jobs and monetary responsibility (I won’t describe it further than that). Our first session happened first thing on Election Day itself, and that was the closest point so far that the class, in my interactions with them at least, got close to talking about American politics (just a mention from the principal in the morning announcements about how important Election Day is). The next closest we will get to anything political will be this coming week, when we’ll talk about making decisions with money and… uh, putting things to a vote.
The kids’ teacher and I have not yet had a chance to discuss if she’s even talked about the election with her kids, who are a pretty diverse group. There are situations such as this election when I admit I’m But ever since the election and even before it, I’ve been running through my mind what I, a simple volunteer guest in their classroom, could say to them to ease their minds about their — our — future. As hard as I imagine it may be right now for their teacher to find a way to make sense of all of this, it’s been hard for me as well to formulate positive thoughts. I think what I could say is that simply they should never be afraid of the future. Sure, it’s good to have worries and concerns (even if these are pint-sized kids), but they must know that there are those close to them (family, teachers, etc.) who truly want to see them bright and happy and thriving. I hope to tell them, and I hope they will understand, that nobody should prevent them from dreaming big and being their very best. They should be respected for their talents, and not held back for being who they are (e.g. boy or girl, native American or otherwise). They should also not disrespect or hold anyone back or those same reasons. And above all, I hope to tell them that if they do dream big and be their very best, there’s nothing in the world that they can’t do.
That’s what I hope to tell them. But if their teacher is one smart cookie (and she is), she’s probably telling them that already.