I underestimated my daughter ... never again

I underestimated my daughter. I think many of us did during the week of the presidential election.

I was at work when the news came out that Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America come mid January. That was hard to write. I was still at work when the kids woke up and my wife told them the results. My daughter cried. Her brother cursed God, but he is six and hilarious. I had assumed that she was sad that there was not going to be a female president.

That was understandable, third graders don't know the intricacies of presidential politics. She knew there was a woman, who is a mom and grandmother, was running for president. And from what she heard it was looking good, I guess we all heard that. I didn't help, when I went to vote I had my daughter fill out the part of my ballot next to Hillary Clinton's name. It was a proud moment for me, watching her little hand fill in that circle. Earlier in the day her class voted, she cast her vote for Secretary Clinton. She lost the third grade and Kindergarten, but handily carried the 1st grade.

So it was understandable that she was sad. Later that day she asks me where I was born. I know she knows I was born in Puerto Rico. Then she got a little silent. "So, is that where they are going to send you?"


"Is that where they are going to send you?" She asked again. I told her no, that no matter who was president I couldn't be deported. I explained to her that Puerto Rico is its own country but is also a commonwealth of the United States. And that people born there have been U. S. citizens by birth since 1917.

Earlier in the day, she had asked my wife who would take care of her and her brother if they sent her away. My wife was born in Armenia, her family legally immigrated to the US in the early 1980s, did everything the right way and eventually all became citizens. Like all Americans they pay taxes, vote and serve on jury duty when called upon. My daughter figured it would have to be my brother's wife, since both of her parents, her grandmothers and her uncles would be on airplanes. Or   some sort of boat to Armenia or Puerto Rico.

It is sad that things kids hear in the playground that has to do with deporting people as opposed to hearing a taboo curse word.

But for many children this is a legitimate fear, its not just uninformed school yard talk or overheard conversations on NPR. And if deportations do happen, it will be a scary time for children whose parents were not born here. Even if they are citizens. I don't know how to explain to her that for many people this will be a reality. But how does one explain to a child without terrifying them what is happening?

I apologized to her. And never underestimated her again.

1 comment:

Jeremy Barnes said...

how sad that so many have to have this conversation