Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Get Out And Vote

...even if you have to take your uncooperative 2yo with you. I would like to think that by including K in the process of voting is planting a seed on some level. Far too few people take advantage of our constitutional right to vote. With a father who majored in political science and a mother who is an attorney I hope that K will grow up with an appreciation for not only our right to vote, but also the importance of educating yourself and actually getting to the polls to vote.

Luckily our newest polling place is our church, so it is a place that she and I are both familiar with. As we drove to the church she asked, "Mommy, where are we going at." I explained that we are going to church so that I could vote - a concept completely lost on her, I realize. I do hope that adding the word vote to her vocabulary is at least a start. The conversation continued like this:
K: Going to vote?
Me: Yes, I have to vote.
K: I don't want you to go, I love you so much. (seriously, she says this at the cutest, most random times lately)
Me: I'm not leaving, you are coming with me.
K: I can come with you?
Me: Of course!

We parked, walked into the church, found the appropriate room, and were directed to the table where my precinct was checking in. Luckily our time in line (however brief) was made easier by running into a neighbor from across the street who was also there to vote. I showed my ID, signed the log book, and was directed to the end of the table to pick up my ballot. The very nice man at the end of the table first gave K a sticker, then passed one to me as well. She expertly took the backing off of the "I Voted" sticker and placed it on the front of her shirt (she was pretty excited about the sticker).

Of course at that point she began to wander. I did the best I could to keep her close by while listening to the man explain how to fill out my ballot (instructions I did not need, but listened to politely) and where to put it when I was finished. I was able to coax her over to one of the voting booths, but she was quickly frustrated that she couldn't see what was on the table or what I was doing. Frustration which she quickly voiced quite loudly while trying to climb up my leg (not an easy task since I am 8 months pregnant). By the time she was ready to bolt across the room, our neighbor was finished with his ballot so he scooped her up (despite her loud protests) while I completed the ballot.

...sidenote on the ballot...it is a primary election so of the 18 categories in which someone actually declared themselves for one party or the other, only one category included more than one name. So, this amounted to a frustrating session of color-in-the-box where only three of my choices (presidential candidate and two tax levy issues) actually matter since everyone else was unopposed within the party so I only had one choice of box to fill. Fun stuff. OK, end of rant...

Finally, K cried enough that our neighbor set her down beside me and she promised not to run away (thank goodness he has kids and understands). Then, we walked over to the machine where I inserted my ballot for it to be read electronically.

Whew, thus ended K's first experience at the polls! Our church has an indoor kids play area so we spent the next 45 minutes with K running around Kid City, introducing herself to complete strangers, and quickly calling them her friends. I love that she is so comfortable with herself that she has no qualms approaching and introducing herself to a kid she has never seen before or joining a group of kids running around, saying "hey guys, wait a me." SO cute. Luckily that overly-friendly nature doesn't extend to adult strangers (or sometimes even to adults she knows).

That friendly nature was curtailed a bit today when one of the little girls she was following around took to growling at K. She panicked and ran full-speed to where I was sitting, climbing into my lap, saying "I'm scared." I tried to convince her that the little girl was just being silly, but the girl continued to growl at her (I think she liked to see K's reaction) so she ran back to me every time it happened. I didn't think much of it until we were back in the car and K started talking to me in a grumpy, growly voice (almost sounding mad). My first thought was, great, a new trick. Hopefully this won't be a new addition to her habits. I guess I'll have to get used to her picking up habits from other kids.

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