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The Little Voter

I often feel badly that my car's satellite radio is tuned only to the 24-hour politics station. My poor kid, I think. She could be listening to Dan Zanes or that butt song she likes. Instead, wonks drone on, spin masters dizzy us, and angry audio spews from the speakers. Try as I might to switch to a more happy place, this presidential election has captured my attention more than any other in years past.

It is no surprise then, that Maria has asked a lot of questions about the candidates. Kid questions like "What does he look like?'' and "Is he nice?'' But because she also has gotten stuck on the theme of war, and stopping it, I haven't felt nearly as badly about forcing her to listen.

"If I were Vice President, I would stop the war,'' she has said.

"If we are going to stop war, then we need some guns,'' she also has said.

Oh boy. I quickly explained what a diplomat does. No guns necessary.

So, last week when friends said they were going to join the crowds outside the presidential debate hall at Belmont University in Nashville, where we live, I made plans to take Maria to show her what all the talk on the radio is about.

Yesterday afternoon, despite rain and threat of more rain, Maria and I joined our friends in a parade of passionates. The streets outside the University were full of Americans exercising their rights of free speech, something our relatives in Cuba cannot do. How blessed are we?

I made Maria a sign that said: "Vote for Peace'' in keeping with her interest and because, really, who would argue with a 4-year-old child and her mother praying for peace? Like a natural-born demonstrator, she held it above her head so passing cars could see it. I kept thinking that her father's deceased parents, both of whom were active in the Civil Rights movement, would be oh-so-proud.

I am so glad we went. More than anything because we want our daughter to learn early that her voice and her vote matters. And, we want her to be an informed voter who asks critical questions and follows her conscience -- even if it means she'll grow up and cancel out her mother's vote one day.

For sure, she and I will attend many more political events in the future. But it may not be as easy to get her there as it was this time.

Describing the event to her father, she said: "It was like a parade, but not as fun.''

Little Voter 08
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