Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Education, opportunity and optimism

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Sam helped me vote yesterday. He was THRILLED to be able to fill in the little bubble for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. He was disappointed, however, that he could not "vote the way he wanted." As is generally his nature, he is an impatient little soul and wanted the freedom to choose all on his own. I giggled when I asked him if he even knew who any of the people were and he said, "well...no...not really," because I know that he's probably as well-qualified to vote as any number of adults who cast a ballot. But when I explained that his time will come...when he's 18 he can choose to vote for whoever he wants...we started the most amazing dialogue we've ever had in his six short years of life.
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Me: When you see those millions and millions of votes being counted tonight on the news, you'll know that one of them was yours.

Sam: Really?

Me: Yep. Pretty cool, huh?

Sam: Mommy, who's going to be campaigning for President when I'm 18?

Me: I don't know...it could be anybody. Let's see...when I was 18, Barack Obama was still in law school. So when you're 18, it could be somebody who is in law school right now...or it could be somebody who is in business...it could be anybody. Anybody can be President. YOU could be President some day if you want.

Sam: Really? (I can not express the awe with which this one word was spoken...it brought tears to my eyes.)

Me: Yes, really.

Sam: How?

Me: Well...it starts with working really hard in school...learning a lot about a lot of different things...I think the President should be really smart and work really hard to understand as much about the world as they can...

Sam: I could study lasers...that would be really smart.

Me: Maybe you don't want to be President then. Maybe you want to be a scientist and work for NASA.

Sam: What's NASA?

Me: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. They study space. You know the people who send rockets up into outer space?

Sam: Yeah.

Me: That's NASA (a little liberty taken here...so shoot me)

Sam: Wow! Really?

Me: Yeah. Kind of like Star Wars, but not in a movie...in real life.

Sam: Wow.

Me: But you have to study really hard and do learn as much as you can about science and math.

Sam: OK. Can we get McDonalds for dinner?
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I remember thinking the world was my playground and I could be anything I wanted to be. I remember dreaming and hoping for something better. I remember the possibility of it all.

When and how did I change?
How did I get here?
When did a steady stream of compromises become my way?
Can I change back?
Can I recapture for myself that optimism I so easily share with my child?

Indeed, it is time for a change.
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4 comments:

lorem ipsum said...

That's so beautiful! Looks like Sam has a chance at following the family into public life--after all, his mom's already a lawyer. But you've got to let him know that not all presidents are smart--only the good ones.

Bon said...

sounds like an amazing conversation.

A place to call my own said...

That brought a tear to my eye.

Beautiful.

KSD said...

Aw, the wanting to go to McDonald's is perfect.

And, beautifully handled, mom.