It would appear that we now have a new tradition in America: pretending young kids give a crap about presidential elections. Just Google “talking to kids about election” and you will be offered seemingly countless examples of sore losers who had unfortunately produced offspring and wanted to make sure the young’uns were as miserable as they were.
Tear-stained and emotionally stunted parents all over the land are feverishly working overtime to pass on their hyperbole drenched malignant narcissism to their innocent children, who would probably rather be watching Nickelodeon than seeing mommy struggle with snot bubbles because she’s been crying ever since MSNBC called Wisconsin for Trump last Tuesday night.
It’s all a variation on a theme: “The world is ending because awful inbreds in icky parts of America won’t celebrate diversity by voting the same way Mommy, Daddy, and the other wealthy white people in the building do. Can you hand me another tissue please? I mentioned icky, right?”
There are slight variations on the theme, like this Slate writer reimagining history and portraying himself as precocious 9 year-old who was craving deeper political knowledge:
“In 1984 I was 9, and no one really talked to me about how polling worked in the days leading up to Election Day. Maybe there wasn’t really that much polling—like, maybe FiveThirtyEight wasn’t even a website yet? At any rate, I simply assumed that my parents’ favored candidate, Walter Mondale—and his vice-presidential pick, Geraldine Ferraro—would win. And so when I woke up the morning after the election to see that in fact they had lost 49 of 50 states, I was crushed to realize that in fact most of America did not agree with my parents or with me.
I thought of 1984 on Tuesday night as the results started spiraling into nightmare-land. Our two daughters spent the summer cheering with us for Hillary Clinton. We made them sit through her entire convention speech; we talked to them about what it meant for a woman to assume the highest office in the land; we were honest with them about how Donald Trump thought and felt and spoke about women. We took them with us Tuesday morning to vote and posted optimistic photos to Facebook.”
If my parents had forced me to watch a political convention with them at that age I would have sued for emancipation, run away, or “accidentally” broken the television. I’ll wager that at age 9 this guy was probably like other boys his age in 1984 and spent most of his free time trying to not have conversations with adults.
Because that’s what actual children do.
Naturally, the more famous among us wanted everyone to know that they’re super concerned about how to explain to their kids the existential horror brought about by the fact that one side wins and one loses in every presidential election (Quelle horreur!).
Aaron Sorkin wrote a public letter to his daughter, because having important family discussions about “truly horrible” events in private doesn’t fit the aforementioned narcissistic m.o. The only real surprise here is that Sorkin wrote it and it’s less than 75,000 words long.
“And it wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night—it was his supporters too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons.”
That’s the parental spirit.
“Everyone who doesn’t agree with you should be dismissed with a sweeping, derogatory generalization. Because we’re tolerant people. Good talk, honey.”
What I worry about the most are the poor, emotionally abused kids whose parents are trying to make a quadrennial event seem like the apocalypse. When I was unhappy with the 2008 election results and my then 10 year-old daughter asked me if I was sad I said, “No, because this is America and we’ll do it again in four years. If I don’t like the results of an election I just need to wake up the next day and work to change them.”
If I’m the mature adult in the room, America is truly good and hosed.
I do want to try to reach out to these children though. So here is a quick little letter you can print and give to any of them forced to live with parents suffering from Election Perspective Derangement Syndrome. Change the names as needed for the kids. But please, let’s save these children.
Mom and Dad,
We need to talk. I’d rather be playing Titanfall 2, but this is important.
Stop trying to scare me about the election. I know you don’t like that guy, but, and I have to be honest here, I don’t care.
I’m 11, here is a quick list of things I do care about:
1: Internet speed
3: Making sure I don’t accidentally fart in class again.
I know that I’m supposed to think the new president is super scary because you do, but that lady really freaked me out too. The first time I heard her laugh on TV I had, like, 17 nightmares that night.
Jeff’s dad is an alcoholic who has to Uber home from bars and sleep for two days after.
Do you think you guys could maybe do something like that for a while? Just to lighten things up around here?
You know what would be super cool?
Parents who could teach me coping skills. If I’m supposed to crap myself and drown in tears every time something doesn’t go my way I am going to get run over by the Social Darwinism bus before I’m 25.
Look into that, and maybe a shower, before you write back.
I’ll be at Jeff’s.
Stephen Kruiser is a professional stand-up comic and writer who has had the honor of entertaining U.S. troops all over the world.