I just read a great blog by a very passionate mother. She told a story of her passion to educate her son to be a civic-minded citizen. They listen to NPR in the car, they discuss political ideas that he shows interest in. He has gone with her to vote, and he is only 5.5 years old!
I got to thinking about my own children and how I educate them. Am I creating civic-minded citizens? Sometimes, I guess I do discuss politics with them. They are very aware that last summer I was hell-bent anti-Republican when Ohio Governor John Kasich tried to stick it to me, my fellow teachers, and the fire and police, when he tried to get Issue 5 passed.
(On a side note, I had to Google Kasich’s first name. I wrote Dick Kasich, and then I thought about it. I knew it didn’t look right– I guess the name Dick has something to do with a little subliminal consciousness coming into play.)
They know I feel that everyone deserves freedom, and they already understand the concept of homosexuality and same-sex unions.
They know I am intolerant of prejudice, and when someone cracks a black joke or a Puerto Rican joke, I am quick to explain to them why that kind of joking is in poor taste.
They know that we practice Catholicism, but we have to respect all religions.
They know that I think cutting PBS funding is not going to do anything to help the budget.
They know that I educate myself about all candidates in all elections. When they ask me who I am going to vote for in this election, I say that I, like all-Americans, need to pick the best person for the job: man or woman, Republican, Democrat, or Independent.
However, that’s about as far as it goes. As much as that sounds like we are a free-wheeling, socially accepting household of peace, love, and education, we actually spend very little time talking about politics and religion.
What we talk about is football, specifically Ohio State Football.
Ask my children who the quarterback is, and they will not only tell you that it’s Braxton Miller, but they will want to discuss his passing and rushing yards, and specifically they like that he is a ball handler and likes to score. If you ask them about Jim Tressel, they will say they miss the man in the sweater vest, but that six wins under Urban Meyer is not too shabby. Yes, we are a house of Buckeyes. We bleed scarlet and grey.
(On a second side note, Tom loves Ohio State so much, he tried to convince me to name our third daughter, Scarlet Grey Huffer. I thought about it for a split second; had one of us been OSU alums, I would have capitulated. However, I went to four colleges. Tom is a graduate of Ohio University. As a counter offer, I suggested Roberta Katrina Huffer–Bobcat Huffer. He didn’t like my suggestion either.)
Tom has the Ohio State marching band CD in his car. Every fall, he jams to the likes of Hang On Sloopy, Carmen Ohio, and Across the Field. His favorite is “We don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan,” which he emphatically has been encouraging the girls to sing since they could talk. He convinced them that saying the word damn is not a swear word if it is in the same sentence with Michigan.
Anyway, this woman’s blog that I mention, she told this great story about how her 5.5 year old son decisively decided to campaign for Obama during snack time at school. He was so irate by the idea of cutting funding to PBS.org that he wanted to convince his friends of the perils of Mitt Romney. The mother was called and asked to speak with him about his fervor.
This kind of passion I understand! We had a similar situation when Carson was in preschool. It was Ohio State/Michigan week, and we all planned our outfits for the week around Ohio State. Every day we wore either Ohio State apparel or scarlet and grey clothing. On Friday of that week, Carson told Tom that she wanted to wear her Ohio State cheerleading uniform to school. She looked so stinking cute in it, what could be the problem?
Tom dropped her off at the usual time, and the teacher who got her out of the car gushed about how adorable she looked. Carson beamed as she walked into class. As usual, Tom ran some errands and went back to pick her up two and a half hours later. However, she did not look so happy at pick up, neither did the teacher.
Mrs. Smith helped Carson strap into the car. Mrs. Smith shut Carson’s door and opened the passenger door to address Tom.
“Mr. Huffer, we had a little incident today. Jonathan came to class in a Michigan sweatshirt. Carson walked up to him, tapped his sweatshirt and said, ‘Me and my daddy don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan.’ “
Tom winced. He looked in the rearview mirror, but Carson was staring at the floor.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Smith,” Tom said to her. “I will have a talk with her.”
Mrs. Smith smiled, told them to have a nice weekend and enjoy the game. Tom started to pull away. He stopped before he got on the main road.
“Carson look at me,” he said. She looked up nervously.
He felt so bad that she had gotten in trouble because of all of his goading. Thus, he made a solid parenting move. “High five!” Her face went from fear to confusion to joy. “I don’t want you ever to say that to anyone again, but I’m proud of you!”
They high-fived, and the next day, Ohio State beat Michigan 25-21!