Reading to Plum is one of my most treasured rituals. Every evening we select books, curl up on the couch and begin the winding down process. The number and style of books depend on his mood, energy level, activities of the day. We may focus on our nature magazines that come monthly if we have been especially vested in outdoor exploring that day. Maybe a book on sharing or waiting or manners if we need a bit of back up in those areas. Books that garner laughs are always read first as we ease into his own awareness that, yes he actually is tired. We have upstairs books, next to his bed for the serious sleepy portion of reading, books that reinforce my love for him and God’s even bigger love. Those are the books he drifts off to, our love books we call them.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 brought a change to our routine. We had the television on. I was hyped, preparing for celebration, lamenting that I hadn’t bought any champagne. Plum asked many “what if’s” but I assured him that all was well. His kindergarten classroom held their own elections, choosing either cats, dogs or spiders. He proudly wore a sticker home that showed he voted. I knew this sticker would go in his forever box, one that holds all his baby stuff and memorabilia. He would want that someday, the day the first woman was elected president. He told me which real candidate all his friends were voting for, said with pride that he has talked some who were unsure into picking “Hillary Quinton”. He explained his reasoning, he was afraid of Trump, thought he would tear up peoples houses and take their money. I did some fact-checking on that but knew he had been exposed to ideas out-side of my control now that he attends school and plays with children at his apartment with mama. He rides buses, he hears things. Still, I knew that his fears would be laid to rest this evening, he would wake up to history and the anxiety of a bully as the president would be over.
We read our books, upstairs and down, but still he was too full of questions to drift right off as usual. Certainly he was picking up on my excitement, I tried to breathe more evenly, focus more determinedly. Slowing my cadence with each page, I settled us back into the security of his bedroom, his blankets, his slumber. I then raced downstairs to begin the celebration that turned to utter devastation, a heartache that just felt too unbelievable to absorb. With our string of unimaginable losses I chided myself for not expecting this, bitterness rising up with the bile in my stomach. I couldn’t imagine how I would explain to this child in the morning what I didn’t understand myself. How could I express confidence when I couldn’t stop crying?
Morning came, I waited for his questions. They didn’t come. He had trusted me that much. I woke Chef to help me find the words. I avoided my Plum, drive by breakfast drop, tossing school clothes into the bathroom as he prepared for his shower, constant motion so that my eyes never met his. Finally the moment arrived, the talk happened. I delivered news and made it light, easy, no worries. I feigned confidence I didn’t feel. He asked why? Why did Trump win? Why didn’t people vote for Hillary? What happens if Trump tries to hurt kids? We talked about how he has parents and grandparents and teachers and if anyone tried to hurt him has lots of people he could tell. Our government is the same. No one person is in charge, there are others around who will make sure that the rules are fair. Using his Pokemon cards as an example, I said what if grandma decided you could no longer have those? You would tell mom, right? She would overrule me and say yes he most certainly can have his cards. And gran would have to listen to mom. He got the lesson. Then my sweetest Plum in the voice of an angel told me, “Anyway, God is the most powerful.”
We read “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” by Sherri Duskey Rinker on the nights we really need help slowing down, we need the gentle cadence of the story that reminds us to put each “toy” away. The story really is like child relaxation, one construction vehicle at a time. I confess to a story edit each time we come to the bulldozer. This piece of machinery is described as such, “No one’s as strong and tough as he.” I always remind Plum that of course God is stronger. He probably thinks it is part of the book. Those words spoken as he relaxes into me, resting on my lap, allowing the day to slide into night, have taken hold in his mind and heart. He knows who is the most powerful. Not the steamroller, not the bulldozer, not even the president.
I will continue educating this child, he will continue reminding me of truths. The most Powerful is still our leader. I know this and rest in this. We are going to keep working on making sure God’s work is done, regardless of who sits in the Oval office. The One who died on the cross doesn’t change every 4 years, knows no political party, doesn’t need to reach 270 electoral votes. We are Christians and we will keep reading our books to the children and serving God’s people and feeding the hungry and giving refuge to persecuted. Our work may have just gotten harder but we were never promised an easy walk. If someone tries to take your “Pokemon” cards, let me know. I am ready for the fight.