Today I ventured out to our new polling place. Simon went with me the last time I voted, in his little car carrier. I had a different polling place then– I’m not sure why. But this time it was nice because we could walk there, on this chilly November morning, all bundled up in our North Face fleeces (how preppy of us?!) and Simon wrapped up in his blankie.
As I walked the stroller and crunched over the leaves collecting on the sidewalks, I thought about how I never really knew or understood the importance of voting until I was a full-blown adult. I didn’t vote, ever, until the Kerry-Bush race. Isn’t that sad? I’m not going to do the math, but I was well into my twenties. And when I think back to my old-self, the person with the previous views and ideals that have changed so much over just the last 8-10 years, I’m almost glad I never voted prior to that. I know I would’ve voted for Bush. I remember thinking that I would when I watched all the campaigning on TV. Thankfully I was too wrapped up in my happy hour-ing and drama filled life to be bothered with such responsible civic duties like voting.
So Simon has been to the polls twice in his lifetime already, and he’s only almost 15 months old. Before I voted (for Kerry) I had never been to a polling place and never really felt the importance or significance of casting my vote. As I strolled my kid into the elementary school, I was so glad for the people that were there to hold the door, and even help me hoist the stroller up the two steps to get into the building. I want Simon to know what a great country this is, that we get the opportunity to have an opinion, a choice, a voice in the real laws and legislation of this country.
Once into the school, we were greeted with warm smiles and three long tables full of PTA baked goods and crock pot meals available for purchase. I got two cookies for a dollar (what a deal?!) and when we strolled into the gym, I looked around at the art on the walls in the hallway, and smiled at the tiny gymnasium where I would cast my vote. Someday, will Simon go to this school? It was such a sweet little school, so much like the one I went to as a kid. I remember it crawling with voters and not really understanding what the hoopla was about. I either wasn’t paying attention, or my teachers didn’t do a good job in telling us what elections were all about. The smell of the school was just so….memorable and nice. Warm and filled with germs. Whenever I walk into a school I secretly ask myself if I was supposed to be a teacher. Did I miss my calling?
I’m sure part of it was the chill in the air, and the mad rush to get to the polls, then to storytime, then to the sitter, then to work on time- but I was a little overwhelmed with all sorts of feelings this morning. I’m so glad that I can walk in my neighborhood. I’m so glad that Gabe and I can tread water in this economy. I’m so glad that we don’t get sucked into the negativity and materialism that exists in the media these days. I’m just really happy. And more than that, I hope that my kid realizes, with each trip to the polls, with each walk to the public park, each storytime at the public library, and each toy that we save to buy, that the things we believe in are important. Things like great schools, safe neighborhoods, and special programs in warm libraries with great books and shaking tambourines, those are all important, and we rely on those things and need to vote for people that also believe that these things have a place in our society and deserve adequate funding to keep them running for the common good.
I was sad that I didn’t get to vote on our Columbus library levy- we have our own Grandview Library that’s separate from CML’s system- and thrilled to hear that their levy has passed.
So I guess all I’m saying is, I hope to take Simon with me each time I vote. I hope I can teach him why I’m voting for the things I believe in. And I hope he can decide for himself what he believes is right, good, and just, and eventually he casts his vote to prove that point.
However, if he’s in his twenties and thinks a person like Bush should be President, I would be perfectly ok with him skipping the polls and heading to happy hour, so long as he had a designated driver.