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The stay-at-home dad: How kids vote

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| November 7, 2020 1:00 AM

I’m writing this column two days before the election. Hopefully the world hasn’t ended by the time you read it.

Our kids don’t know much about politics, elections or the bluster that surrounds the season. Thanks to all the commercial-free streaming options out there, we watch almost no live television in our house, and my wife and I usually talk about current events outside the earshot of our children.

Not that they would care anyway. When we logged into Hulu on the evening of the second presidential debate (so we could watch the “Halloween Baking Challenge”), only our 9-year-old daughter could recognize the two old guys scowling at each other on the loading screen.

For us, we value teaching them the general idea of things rather than the specifics of an individual election cycle. My wife and I filled out our ballots at the dinner table a couple weeks ago, talking through the steps as we did them. Our 3-year-old wanted us to keep filling in bubbles next to all the names, and our two middle kids left the room immediately. Only the 9-year-old showed any interest in the process, though she only wanted us to vote for all the girls.

We’ve tried to deploy voting as a means to limit fights about various family activities. It rarely works out. Part of the problem, of course, is we’re an even-numbered household, and discussions about how to weigh votes differently will deteriorate into Dad going off on a tangent and ranting about systemic voting inequality, and well, Dad needs to stop watching so many documentaries and just focus on the world he can control, okay?

Anyway, if we let just the kids vote, it always ends up the same: One-to-one-to-one-to-one.

Classic example: Choosing a movie to watch together:

The 3-year-old: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!”

Me: “Not a movie, but okay…”

The 5-year-old: “Frozen 2!”

Me: “We just watched ‘Frozen 2.’”

The 5-year-old: “Then ‘Frozen 1’!”

The 7-year-old: “Jurassic Park.”

Me: “The little kids can’t watch ‘Jurassic Park.’”

The 7-year-old: “Then ‘Minecraft’ videos.”

Me: “We’re not going to watch strangers on YouTube play ‘Minecraft.’”

The 9-year-old: “I want to watch something different with either a princess or a girl who is going to a magical world or is a chef or a dancer or both. Or if it has Barbie in it or a quest of some kind.”

Me: “That’s like a thousand different movies on Netflix.”

We usually end up watching one of the “Toy Story” movies, because it’s just about the only thing that doesn’t stir a fit with somebody. Even if one thing manages to earn a majority, the dissenters scream and make the experience miserable for everybody else. Good thing people eventually age out of such behavior, har har.

Or we adopt a more authoritarian process where Mom and Dad decide the movie, and the kids who don’t like it can bugger off to Legoland (aka the craft corner of the living room where we keep the Legos).

That’s typically when the 9-year-old makes her usual “It’s not fair!” argument and the adults ignore her logical explanation.

See? We’re teaching them about civics just fine.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.