What We Did at the Inauguration Party

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You can read about what we ate, which is always a big part of our parties, but for this party, I wanted to do something more, something that would signal to the kids that this was a slightly different party, and have them contribute something that they would remember.

So, we set out red, white and blue construction paper, a sheet of  “Dear President Obama, I hope…” stickers, a few baskets of red, white and blue crayons, and decorative star and American flag stickers.  The kids wrote their wishes for their new President, and I’m going to mail them to the White House along with a note and a picture of  all our guests.

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Of course, I was hoping/thinking the kids would wish for things altruistic, like world peace, or an end to hunger.  But most of them wrote more general things like:

“I hope you have a great time in the White House”

“God helps you”

“You rock!”

“I love you”

“I want you to know that my family voted for you”

“People who do not have a home will have a home”

“You have proved that what matters is how hard you work”

“I love your daughters!”

Of course, when I thought about it, these are the kinds of things that are appropriate for 6 & 7-year olds.  (And, yes, most of them sat down and colored and wrote these cards unsupervised because the parents were busy celebrating, too…)   But for one thing, while these kids are pretty sophisticated when it comes to community service and outreach (a monthly event in their school and required for the upper grades), they are also just kids.

First graders know that President Obama is the first African American president, some know he looks like them, they all know quite a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. But not having had much–or any–first hand experience with racism, and not truly and fully knowing the horror of the history of race in this country, the full impact of this election is, of course, lost on them.  As is the spiraling misery of the last eight years, or an awareness of the global crises in progress right now.

But this is a really good thing. Because theirs is the generation that will grow up not without racism or social injustice or global crisis but in what (I hope) will be a new era of hope, with a new attitude of possibility.

If we can be as hopeful in our support for this administration and our democracy as our children already are, this really can be the end of irony and disillusionment.   If we can hope and continue our involvement and hard work, in our neighborhoods, schools, cities, and beyond, our kids will learn more precisely what is possible for them and for their communities working together. And the whole country will benefit from a generation raised with different ideals and different attitudes.

Of course, this is good citizenship.  But it’s also good parenting.

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