Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Family That Votes Together...

I love presidential election years.
It's an excuse for me to watch continuous news coverage the weeks leading up to an election.   
I justify my obsession as deep concern for our country. 
I do love this country. 
But I also think I like to be distracted.    
Days heading into the election, I listen to talk radio, watch news about the campaigns, and search poll results long before the polls even open.   
This year I involved the kids. 
We read one book on the electoral college.
They completely tuned out.    
My husband printed up a sample ballot to show them. 
One son looked at it.   One out of five.   
The second daughter watched one of the debates and joyfully clapped for the President of the United States.   "See everybody loves President Obama.   Even I love him."
Someone threw a pillow at her.        
Election electricity filled our home the days leading up to the big vote.

The night before Election 2012, my husband and I laid out our voting day schedule (complete with doughnuts and coffee from QT because according to my husband I look for every opportunity to spend money).   
The five-year-old (the Obama supporter) skipped over and announced, "I want to go with you to vote."
We ignored her.  
Our children know that things generally need to be said a couple times before we pay attention.  
We continued our conversation...ignoring her.  
We did raise our voices a little louder though because we were trying to drown out her voice.  
We should have listened.  Our mistake.
Our voting experience was about to spiral quickly out of our control.  
She grabbed the toddler's hands and spun him around, "We are going to go vote with Mom and Dad tomorrow!  Wooo.  Hoooo."
The toddler, always the bearer of good tidings, ran to tell the others.   
"We're going to go vote with Mom and Dad tomorrow!" 
"We're going to go vote with Mom and Dad tomorrow!"  

No. No. Noooo.   We raced after him, but it was too late. 
The heads of dozens of children (okay, only three others) popped out of their doorways. 
Funny how they stayed silent in their rooms ten minutes earlier when I yelled for someone to help me sort the laundry.   
Funny how those ears work. 
"Cool, Mom.   That will be fun to watch you vote." 
"I wanted to go.   Thanks for letting us go, Dad." 
"How early do we have to get up?"   Of course.  The teenager.    

Wait...there it was.  There was our way out. 
Thank.  You.  Teenager.
We capitalized on his comment. 
"Ohhh.  Yeah.  Wow.  It will be early when we go vote.  We are leaving here at 6:00 in the morning and you all probably don't want to get up that early.  It'll be dark.  Cold.   Probably rainy.   Very scary outside.   You don't want to go with us.   Wouldn't you rather sleep?" 

"I want to go."
"I want to go."
"I want to go."
"I want to go."
"I guess I'll go."

Oh, goody.  
Just what the polling places were hoping.  
That everyone would show up and bring along their five children.
Because that won't clog up the lines or anything.

"Here's the deal," we told them.  
"We will walk into your rooms ONE time tomorrow morning.   We will make ONE announcement that we are leaving to go vote in 10 minutes.   That's all you get.   If you don't get up and get ready, you don't go."  
They all said, "Deal." 
No way they would get out of bed.
Except maybe the five-year-old.  
As she kissed me goodnight before she went to bed, the last thing she whispered was "Please don't go vote without me.  Please don't go vote without me."
Well, maybe I'd give HER two chances in the morning.     
Election Day 2012
6:00 a.m.
In a barely audible whisper, I spoke one time into each child's room.
"We are leaving to vote in 5 minutes."
I smiled in victory as I closed each of their doors.
No way they heard that.   
I couldn't have been more wrong. 

Bodies flew out of the bed.  Lights sprung on in every bedroom.
Clothes thrown on.  Pajamas discarded on the floor.  Even some hair combed.  
Each child was completely dressed and waiting in the kitchen before I had finished brushing my teeth. 
Each child except the toddler.   Of course.  
"Do you think we can leave him home alone?"
No one thinks I'm very funny in this family. 
Fine, someone go grab the little guy.      
It seems we would all be going to vote.  
A group of 7 with only 2 registered voters.      

My husband and I were both determined to teach the kids lessons as we stood in line.  
Me first. 
"Kids, voting is very important.   In Afghanistan, people voted for the first time...ummm....a couple years ago....and they walked....ummmm....hundreds of miles (?) in the heat...or maybe in the cold...because they took their freedom to vote so seriously.   Same thing in Iraq.    People walked and walked and maybe walked some more and waited in line for...well, hours...maybe even days (?) cast their vote."    
What a teaching moment.  Too bad I hadn't researched any of what I was telling them.  
I hope the man standing in front of me wasn't an expert in Middle East voting.  
My husband prefers to teach more practically. 
He stood tall.   Proud.   Looking each person in the eye that stood near us.  
Giving buddy smiles to some and glaring at others. 
"What are you doing?"  I mumbled.  
"Intimidating other voters." 
Good lesson, Babe.
He teaches the kids to intimidate voters and I teach them false facts.  
What a team. 

I gotta admit that it was pretty exciting to watch the kids watch the voting.  
They were respectful.  Inquisitive.   Joyful.   Concerned.  Attentive.  Excited.     
Are these my children?  
As we drew close to the front, a volunteer took the kids and let them practice voting.  
Mickey Mouse, Barbie, and Elmo were on the ballot.  
They all thought that was pretty cool.  
They were rewarded with an "I Voted Today" sticker.   

I took three kids up with me to cast my vote and my husband took two.
I definitely had the harder job.   Because I'm the mom...and that's just how I roll.    
Oldest daughter was concerned that I wasn't making the mark dark enough and she was breathing over my shoulder and checking me twice.  

The toddler was hanging on the side of the polling booth and wrenched it out of place.  
Second son, helpful son, was hovering behind in embarrassment at the small scene we were creating and pretending he didn't know us.
My husband had the teenager with the gangster hoody over his head and the over-zealous 5-year-old Obama girl turned Romney fan helping him vote.   Lucky him.   
I think I earned my "I Voted Today" sticker.   
Even though the toddler sort of broke one of the polling booths. 

Quik Trip was the reward and everyone got doughnuts. 
Because if you vote in our family, you earn the right to eat.
And I just had a feeling that things were going to go our way today.
Let's spend some of our hard earned money, Honey, on glazed doughnuts.    
I just had this premonition that my guy would win.  

My guy didn't win.  
My home state legalized marijuana.  
And my husband wants his doughnut money back.
Overall, I'm completely disappointed in the election results.      
But my God is still on His throne.  
He raises up leaders.  
He sets events in motion. 
He is Sovereign.   
My country may wander, but I will always worship my God. 
No matter who is in office.      

Tonight, I'm thinking about my kids springing out of bed yesterday morning to witness voting.  
Five kids.  
Five kids who know the truth.  Five kids who will prayerfully exalt God's Word. 
Five kids who have taken an interest in this voting process on their own. 
Five future voters.   
That's a lot of votes from one family. 

My hope is that if they spring out of bed to merely "watch" people vote that they will also spring out of bed to go vote when they are actually of age.
I hope they recognize what a privilege it is to have a say in the way our country is governed...
I hope they thirst to have that same opportunity and freedom...
And I hope they excitedly cast their ballot the first chance they get...
And if my kids choose not to vote...
They better not complain about the way the country is run...
And Mama definitely won't be treating them to doughnuts on election day...
Doughnuts are only for the ones with the sticker...

May God guide President Obama as he leads this country. 
And may those of us that didn't vote for him never forget who is truly in control of our lives.