This blog post is written for all of us, no matter how we marked our ballots on Tuesday.
The election is over.
And our children heard the whole thing. Whether we had the TV on for every cable news minute, or were sporadically checking headlines on our phones, our kids heard about it. At recess. On the bus. From us.
We’ve had a day to react, now it is their turn. And it’s important that they get to speak. Because they knew all about this election, but their voice had no vote.
Time to see how they are doing with The Big News.
You may have already heard their feelings: surprise, grief, excitement, fear. Or 1000 other emotions. With any Big News comes Big Feelings. And the big-ness? It can often paralyze us. Keep us swirling in place, unable to go forward.
So how do we help them? How do we move out of stuck? We ask A Very Big Question, and then get very, very, very, small.
If you were elected President, what is the very first thing you would do for the people of your country?
This is the question because in their response you’ll hear how they feel—their fine-ness, their scared-ness, their why-are-we-here?-ness. This is the question because age three or 13, they’ll have an answer, and you’ll hear what to do. This is the question because it addresses three of their five most vital needs: to connect, to imagine, to contribute. This is the question because it says to a child: what you believe is bigger than the ballot box.
So ask it. And then listen. And listen. And listen. And listen. Let them go on, and on and on as long as it takes. Then ask a smaller question: How can we do that? Listen again. Then ask a smaller question: How do we create it first here, where we live? Listen more. Then ask a smaller question: what do we do to start it right now?
Then go. And do with them that one small thing.
And tomorrow ask them, “What’s next?” Let them lead. Who knows where you will go. All our children need to know is that their feelings are real, and anything is possible.
And tonight? After you’ve tucked them in and said good night? Softly hum Hail to the Chief as you walk down the hall, and imagine yourself as President. What would you do? And how will you start? Remember, all revolutions begin small.
What is your election night story, and where will it lead you? Send me a line–I’d love to know.