I loved Schoolhouse Rock and I am pretty sure I learned a lot of information just based on the catchy songs they used to have.
One of my all time faves is the "I'm Just a Bill" one learning about how a bill gets passed into a law. I can picture the face on the rolled up piece of paper with the word bill on a button. If you were not a child of the late 70s and 80s then you may want to google these, they are still spot. Nothing much has changed and they are still relevant, graphics sure got better but there is something so comforting about these and the way they look.
I have always wanted to keep my boys informed on world and current events. I of course filter some of it, there is too much hurt out there and some things are just not age appropriate in detail but I have never shied away from telling them when things are wrong just as much as I tell them when things are right.
It is a balance to do this and one that I try and navigate carefully. I also have to be mindful of the fact that not all families are open to sharing the news with their children for a variety of reasons so mine cannot be the Google of the school bus on certain topics.
However, I never really thought I would have to have so many conversations about candidates who are running for office as I have this year. We started out as talking about who is running, why people may be supportive of the different candidates. So far so good but then this reality show pretending to be an election seemed to take over.
It is hard to teach them about democracy and how the process works when most things are reduced to Saturday Night Live skits that are so close to the real debates that it is hard to not wonder if they are not using same writers.
It is hard to teach children about integrity and dedication when one candidate is surrounded with questionable deals and has been found to be less than forthright multiple times.
There is a challenge in teaching them to respect people with disabilities, immigrants, people of color, women, veterans who were POWs, veterans who suffer from having suffered and more blatant lies that get passed off as "tells it like it is" -- no that candidate tells it like his interests require, truth and facts optional at best.
I am trying to raise children who are aware of issues, who understand the workings of the globe, who are horrified by wars and terrorists and who are also open minded and appreciative. Kids who appreciate what democracy is and want to foster it.
These candidates and this election cycle, the media included, are making my job as mother in this respect harder. How can I tell them our system is flawed but with great merit, that we should respect one another and that our goals for elected officials is that they put the country first even when those choices are hard? How can they have faith when lies are spouted about rigged elections instead of understanding that rigged and bias have different definitions.
My youngest son just ran for class representative as did one of his female friends. I think these two 10 year olds could teach our candidates for president quite a lot. My son wrote a speech, which we worked on together and that he practiced multiple times, his intro was about why he was running, the body was why he would always represent the entire class and how he wanted it to be a great year for all and the conclusion thanked the other candidates and asked for his classmates vote but no matter the outcome he was hoping he could work with whoever won to make 5th grade a good experience. His friend made a poster telling the world that while she may be small she was a powerhouse and that she was dedicated to being the best for them. My son lost, he was upset but I told him that he should be proud of how he ran his campaign and how he had really tried. The girl who beat him is nice he told me but he still thinks he would have been the better choice. They were perfect these two kids - they were cooler than the "I'm Just a Bill" video. His friend also did not win but got alternate. I personally think of course they both should have won but here is an example of my bias (just since it seems that is a hard concept for some out there to grasp). I am awed by these two, and their friends and older siblings. They are ambitious with their own merit.
These two 10 year olds got it - I mean really got it. The idea of serving for office was clear to them, you listen to all, you take it up to whoever needs to pass the rule, you try to make it good for the class and oh yeah they are both all about the "pursuit of happiness". They are too young for scandals but they are not too young to be childish and fight that way yet they showed more maturity than one candidate has shown pretty much since he has been in the public eye and more integrity that we had hoped for from the other.