Out of the mouth of babes…

5 11 2008

pict0408Back last March, Shop Girl was once again dared by evil Best Boy to reach into her magical Wardrobe/Art department bag of tricks and make an old-school space suit. It was for another Hey Josh where Josh Shipp was talking about all the things we dream about becoming when we are young and innocent – and how life sometimes beats the stuffing out of us and we become apathetic and cynical. Anyway, Shop Girl kicked it with this little guy’s outfit – so much so…he just may grow up to be an astronaut.

I was looking through my iPhoto library to find anything that would be remotely patriotic and this is what I landed on. I will readily admit that my years living outside our American fishbowl and observing from the outside in for so many years, changed the way I felt about the Red, White and Blue. There is a reason that you can pick “us” out on foreign streets and it never made me want to wave that flag much. The first election that we tried to vote in from foreign soil had us turning in our passports for three days to get security checked before we could ever cast a ballot. That was the end of voting for me until a few years ago when my kids were all over my case for not participating.

By the time they were old enough to vote, they had spent two thirds of their lives on foreign soil. The rest they had spent trying to prove to their Spanish friends that they really were American. One time Best Boy buzzed me from the street level intercom asking me to throw his passport over the balcony so that he could prove to his friends that he really was American. That was a no-go. Number one – I didn’t trust a 10 year old with his own passport…and most importantly, number two – I liked the alternate reality better – people thinking my kid WASN’T American.

But as usual – and we should know it’s true by now – that out of the mouth of babes…comes a great deal of wisdom and hope. Passion for politics is NOT on my agenda even having been raised by a woman who was so passionate that I could barely walk when she’d drag me around doing canvassing and polling in the late 50’s and early 60’s. She was a precinct captain. I was also taken to a convention and sit here wondering if it was the 1960 Republican National Convention in Chicago where her fav, Barry Goldwater conceeded the nomination to Nixon. Bitter tears were shed in front of the little black and white console TV when that “Catholic” Kennedy won the next November.

So maybe I have some political baggage. I’d forgotten all of that till I just started writing this. I’m not exactly old enough to be saying, “I never thought I’d see the day…” but I never thought I’d see the day that I’d give a rat’s behind about politics. But I sat in front of a TV (just a tad bigger and with higher definition than that console) last night with tears streaming down my face as the CNN cameras panned the faces in Chicago.

I feel like I carry some of that burden…I feel like I was an accomplice somehow…like some of that conservative blood is on my hands. Maybe it doesn’t help that I just finished reading Frank Schaeffer’s Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of it Back. (Interesting read, by the way…)

But I’d be fooling myself to not think that I was influenced by what I witnessed and perceived as I grew up and the mark left on me is not particularly the mark left on my siblings. That’s what makes it my story. My unique set of markers that make me, me.

So, no apologies…not to my dear sweet 81 year old mother who prayed about it all and remembered, “I’m a Republican after all!” and that’s how her ballot bore her mark. Mine is one of the tears and faces in last night’s Chicago throng. How ironic that it would come full circle for me there yet again. I was raised in racial tension of Gary, IN and a child of White Flight.

I held my own kids captive for years in apathetic indifference, trying not to be an American but they have shown me a new way – a new hope – a new day. And for once in my life I can say I feel proud to be an American!