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Paytriotism - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
As we were walking through the parking lot at Skylar's school today, she found one of those "Support Our Troops" magnets and excitedly asked to put it on our car. Kim firmly said, "No." This led to an intense discussion about why this seemingly innocent symbol might inspire parental objections. At one point Skylar suggested covering the words with another message. "There's nothing wrong with the words," I assured her. "The problem is that most people who have these magnets on their cars are trying to show that they also support the President's decisions."

Once we arrived at AJ's for our regular Wednesday fare -- we take Skylar there after every ballet class, since they end so late -- the conversation resumed. Between Kim's discomfort at being under the weather and my discomfort at discussing button-pushing topics in a potentially hostile environment, we were totally drained afterward. Though it pains us to say anything good about "43," the Bean was sufficiently worried about getting in trouble for criticizing the President that I had to soften my stance.

I explained to her A) that it's all right to disagree with the President, as long as you do so respectfully; B) that President Bush is confident enough that he's doing the right thing that he probably wouldn't be bothered by respectful criticism of his decisions; and C) that, were we to meet him, we would surely be able to find some common ground, just as we do with our fundamentalist neighbors across the street. "I could talk to him about baseball. He loves baseball. Or we could talk about our families." I told Skylar about the President's daughters. Kim chimed in with an interesting commentary on their appearance at the Republican Convention, arguing that it could be read as a wholesale endorsement of his policies or a subtle critique. She didn't use those words, of course, but the point was no less sophisticated for being translated into language that Skylar understands. And then I added that, even though we disagree so strenuously with most of the President's decisions, there are things we can admire about him, such as the fact that he loves his family and overcame his alcohol problem for their sake. I've used that line before, not entirely sure whether it's justifiable. But it seems to work for Skylar.

As I thought about this difficult exchange later, I was once again pleased that Skylar has learned to couple her own version of the family critique -- "President Bush tries to help his friends make more money instead of helping everyone" -- with a silver lining -- "I still think he's handsome. I could tell him that if I met him." Navigating the present political landscape is hard. Having a brilliant six-year-old daughter who remains astonishingly pure of heart makes it exponentially harder. I keep wondering whether I've crossed the line into the land of detrimental deception in my attempt to preserve Skylar's idealism. The thing is, though, that I'm doing it as much for myself as for her. I want to believe that, were I to meet the President, I could tell him what troubles me about his policy decisions and still talk amiably about the relative merits of Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens over a plate of barbecue. It's not much of a dream, I realize, but it's the one that keeps me off a more destructive path. And that's a price I'm still willing to pay.

Mode: concentric
Muse: I Am Not Surprised - Organ - Sinking Hearts

5 comments or Leave a comment
nos4a2no9 From: nos4a2no9 Date: February 10th, 2005 07:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I can't imagine how I would explain Bush as both a political entity and as a human being to a young child. You and Kim seem to be doing well with Skylar in this uncertain political climate, and it really does speak to your daughter's intelligence that she is picking up on the currents of tension surrounding her wihtout letting it affect her idealism. I hope I can do half as well with my own children someday.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 10th, 2005 12:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks for the kind words. I sometimes feel like we're trying to hard to keep the belief in Santa Claus and unicorns alive past the point where it's useful. But I think Skylar knows that we're doing that and is ok with it. I'm sure you'll do great!
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: February 10th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's really great that you attempt to answer her questions. My parents, when I was that age, probably told me to shut up, in a nice way, when I asked difficult questions. :-)
From: batdina Date: February 10th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
for what it's worth, from this outsider, I think you guys are doing an amazing job with Skylar. It's wonderful to be even on the periphery soaking it in.

BTW, the partner chick and I are trying to figure out a long weekend to poke around your environs (she's never been to the grand canyon, and I've been too long away from Tucson/Flagstaff myself). Any chance we can try to coordinate something?
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: February 10th, 2005 06:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm going to jump right in here. When? When? When? Yeahhhh!!! We'd love to have you guys! Send email to Charlie and figger it out. He's got a more complicated schedule than me. Yeah squared!!!
5 comments or Leave a comment