It’s Inauguration Day. Cold and rainy, even here in Vegas. It’s good because we need the rain and because it suits my mood today. While many are celebrating, many more of us are wondering “Now what?”. As we wait to see what America under Trump looks like, here’s a story about what it looks like in my house.
Like many households we discuss politics in ours openly and often. We followed the elections with interest, even my five year old who voluntarily watched all the Presidential debates with us. She asked interesting questions and it was a great experience to share. It would be impossible for her to not know where we stand on issues and candidates but I’m very careful not to impose my opinions on her. That was a courtesy afforded me by my own parents and I think it’s important that even the youngest among us have their thoughts about big topics taken seriously.
Even though I allowed Eva to follow the election, there was one thing I would usher her from the room or close the computer over and that was the whole “Grab em’ by the p*ssy” thing. Because, you know, she’s five. And how much do I want to explain about sexual assault to a child? But last night that changed. I didn’t shield her from the truth because I can’t anymore. Now we’ve gone from the idea that a man who would say such a thing could be President to the reality of that man being President. And so now, even though she is only five, she has to know that just because someone has authority, power, a title, it doesn’t mean they are right. It doesn’t even mean they’re a good person.
So last night, after discussing that there would be a new President today, Eva asked me, “Momma, why don’t you like Donald Trump?”
I paused, knowing that an honest answer would chip away at her childhood. But also knowing that a completely honest answer was the only way to make sure she knew, in no uncertain terms, where I stand on sexual assault.
“Well…he says a lot of mean things to people. I’ve seen him make fun of people. And I heard him say that he could grab women by the vulva (the word she knows). I could never like someone who talks about treating women that way.”
Wide eyed she asked “Why don’t the police take him?”
Her response was perfect for two reasons: 1. It demonstrated that even at the tender age of 5, she recognizes inappropriate touching for the serious offense it is and 2. She sees the police as an appropriate place to turn under such circumstances; I hope that is indeed still true.
I told her that the police can only help if they know about a problem, which is why it’s important to tell someone if she sees or experiences something bad. I read her a story, tucked her in, then left her room wondering “Now what?”
I’ve pondered that question the better part of the day. I know I’m not alone. Here’s the best I can come up with: I will keep doing what I do. I will keep teaching my child, helping her grow into a woman who knows her own rights and her own power. A woman who is not afraid to speak up for herself or others. I will continue teaching her that when you stand for what is right, you sometimes stand alone. That the people we love are sometimes wrong. And that decency is ALWAYS the right vote, even when it’s not the winning one.