african american voting election ballot box

Call Me Crazy But I Take the Kiddos With me to Vote

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy, Raising Children of Color

Call Me Crazy But I Take the Kiddos With me to Vote

(Photo courtesy: Library of Congress)
You know how it is when you have to take your children some place where they will have to stay still and use their inside voices for at least an hour or more? After about an hour of going through a store saying:
‘Don’t touch that!”
“I’m not buying that. Put it back.”
Coupled with answering:
“Ma. Ma. Ma Juicy said she doesn’t like me anymore.’
“Maaaaaaa my legs are tired.
“Ma. Ma. How much longer?”
My blood pressure starts to rise.  I know this because I can feel a slight ringing in my head. Really going any place where the children do not have the freedom to roam, no access to technology or snacks for over an hour can make me want to fall out in the middle of the floor like a cranky two year old.  By now I am quite skilled at having to play sibling referee while keeping a grocery cart off of my heels.  But all the grocery store experiences in my mama lifetime could not have prepared me for when I took my three with me to vote in the last election. 
In the last election I did as I’ve always done since I had children and it’s time to vote – I took them with me.  With the hubby at work and the kiddos too young to be left alone at home in the last elections I have always had to take them with me.  I could’ve asked my mama or daddy to watch them.  But because of my grandma(God rest her soul) I drag them along with me.
When I turned eighteen my grandma called me to see if I received her check of 20 dollars and asked me had I registered to vote – in that order.  On the phone that day she reminded me of how people fought to vote (including my mama participating in a protest) and told me how Black folks had to try their luck at answering correctly how many bubbles in a bar of soap to register to vote.  I suppose my grandma’s conversation was like a spell.  Spinning me into the belief that as a parent it’s important for the kiddos to see me vote and to become accustomed to the voting process. 
So, in the last election I went with two kiddos in a stroller and one walking beside me.  What would normally take me 30 minutes, an hour tops, took me almost two and a half hours. My polling center, a nearby school, was packed.  The line to vote resembled a line of ants snaking out of the front door, curving around the school building and into the parking lot.  Not the main parking lot, but the extra parking lot behind the school.
The wait was torture as an adult alone.  The wait with three kids made walking through the Sahara with a half a bottle of lukewarm water seem like a breeze.  I am grateful that I brought snacks, had a full battery on my phone and no one had a major meltdown/breakdown.  All things considered the kiddos were really patient and did an excellent job waiting in line.  Overall I hope that by witnessing no one leaving the line to vote the kiddos got the message how important it is to check a box. 
This year I am pretty sure the lines will not be as torturously long.  But even if they are I will still take every one with me again. My oldest complained that she was fourteen and could now stay home while I went to vote.  I answered her with a stern no- way –in- hell look.  When she started to complain her dad promptly shut her down again with a “You’re going”.
Little does the I- can’t- be –bothered- because- I- am- a –teen- and- I- know- everything  know I went with my parents to vote.  When I became eighteen my parents and my sister and I made a tradition of voting together and then going out for breakfast afterwards.  The hubby and I hope to keep up the same traditions with our little family.  And there are not enough long lines, whiny children or a teenage attitude to stop us!



Will you take the kiddos with you to vote?


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