Her big blue eyes looked at me intently as she asked me her very important question, "Mommy, who do I vote for?" Our school had planned to have a mock election, and my sweet little first grader wanted some serious advice. I was shocked that this child who lived in my home for the past four years would have to ask such a question. But she had asked it, and I could tell that she was all business. So we talked about it in terms that her young mind could understand.
As we walked into the school together this morning, she was nervously saying something under her breath. When I asked her what she said, she was rehearsing, "Vote for ." putting the name of the candidate she was working on remembering in the blank, so she would vote for the right person. Bless her precious little heart, she understood the gravity of what she was about to do, and she did not want to mess it up in any way. It was very important to her, and it should be!
After school, she went with her Daddy and I, who were voting for real. She stood beside me while I cast my vote.
After voting, we went out to eat, while proudly wearing our I Voted stickers. We walked in to see our friends, who also proudly wore their I Voted stickers. We talked to their children about the results of the school's mock election.
Our waitress was lovely young lady in her early twenties. Maybe not with the greatest circumstances in life, but definitely with quite a bit of potential. We have been there before. We have had this same young lady as our waitress before. She stopped beside our table and said, "I know I can ask you this question. What are we voting for today?"
My husband sputtered and stammered as to how to answer her...was she really serious? I began looking around the restaurant for the hidden camera, because we had to be on Candid Camera.
My husband finally said, "the president". She replied, "Oh, okay, that's what I thought. I just haven't watched any news lately." Lately? As in like the last YEAR?!? "I'm not going to vote anyway."
When we asked her why she wasn't going to vote she said dismissively, "I don't like either one of them. And my vote wouldn't really count anyway. Well, it would, but..." She shrugged and walked away. My heart broke as she did. How is it that she lives in a country where men and women die for her right to vote, and she, with so much potential, didn't get it? How is it that this is one of the most important elections that has ever taken place in her life and she doesn't even care? How is it that my fifth grade class understands the gravity of who becomes the next president and how it affects their future, but she doesn't see it? Where did we fail? What could we have done differently to help this young lady understand?
She never returned to our table. I think she was a little embarrassed after asking us. The owner finished waiting our table for whatever reason. If she would have come back, I would have said something to try to persuade her to vote after all. I would have encouraged her to do her civic duty, because she enjoys the rights of being a citizen of the United States. Yet, she did not return to our table, and I was trying to come to grips with the fact that the young lady REALLY DID NOT EVEN KNOW what we were voting for today. I don't understand how in the world she could live in this country and be clueless to the fact that we were voting for our President! And worse than her not knowing, she did not even care. How in the world?
Maybe we are in worse shape than I thought...