Election Day, the Sign Mans, and my Dessert
It's Election Day here in Canada, and for the first time in years, I went to cast my ballot without my little parade of toddlers. Generally I hit the polling station in the morning, in part to avoid any congestion that may occur in the busier after-work hours, but mostly because I like the idea of taking the tots along, exposing them to this aspect of being a grown-up. It's the teacher in me, don't you know. Today I didn't. Today I went after work hours, so that I could be chauffeured to and from - taking the car, when the polling station is six blocks from my home! I'm mortified. What kind of a fat-ass wuss am I morphing into?? I'm also incapable of walking six blocks, so I can swallow my moral outrage at using a car for a six-block outing. It's embarrassing, true; it's also merely necessary. A canvasser for one of the parties came to the door earlier today, "getting the vote out". I assured her of my intention to go to the polls this evening, and she gave me a little bookmark with the candidate's picture and the address of our polling station. Just so's I'd know who to vote for and how to get there. Six blocks from my home. The tots were interested. "Dat's the man on the signs on the lawns!" Darcy exclaimed. "Why did the lady give you the sign man's picture?" I explained that today all the grown-ups would be deciding who got to be the boss of the country. This was one of the men who wanted to help. He didn't want to be the boss, but he wanted to be one of the boss's helpers. I'm talking to three-year-olds: it pays to keep it simple. "Don't we have a boss already?" George asks. It would be clever George who thinks of this. "Well, yes, we do." (I will suffer no snide remarks about Mr. Martin's efficacy or lack thereof in the position; fact is, at least technically, he is the boss.) "We do, but now it's time for someone else to get a chance. Even the boss of the country has to take turns." This they understand, and it's on to more pressing matters, like can Zach eat the Smartie that rolled under the potty and looks just the teeniest bit damp. They took a vote, and Zach ate the Smartie. A few years back, less experienced and more eager to enrich, I attempted a more detailed explanation. "Say that your mummy said you could have either a brownie or some ice cream for dessert, but you all had to have the same thing." I explained to little Kaleb, then four years old. "So everyone in the family would get to say what they wanted. That's voting. Each person would be voting for the dessert they want. Whichever dessert had more people wanting it, that's what everyone would eat." He seemed to grasp this, and then I very skilfully made the connection between voting for something like dessert and voting for leadership of the country. We all troop into the polling station, I take my ballot, mark it, drop it in the box, then back out into the sunshine we go. (Because generally we are sensible in this country and do NOT hold elections in the WINTER!) "Did we voted?" Kaleb asks. "Yes, we did." He scrutinizes my face carefully, puzzlement all over his. "So, when do we get the dessert?" So this evening I went and cast my ballot. In another hour I'll turn on the television and start watching the returns. And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll get the dessert I wanted.