Readers of my own blog are well aware of my rabid interest in the US Election, and on this site I have been taking part in a discussion forum that has got tempers flared and patriotism ignited. It’s pretty intense. As an Australian, living in Australia and therefore about as unable to vote in the US Election as a person can be, it is perplexing for some Americans to have me weighing in with my opinions. One person on the discussion forum suggested I take my opinions and shove them in my tucker-bag (I’m paraphrasing).
I was standing outside my younger daughter’s bedroom door yesterday afternoon, eavesdropping on a very loud debate that was going on between her and her big sister. My girls argue about absolutely anything and everything, which I have learned – from other mothers of daughters – is completely normal. Curious to get a handle on the dynamic between the two of them, I stood outside the bedroom and listened to the screaming match unfold. At one point, I kid you not, they were both yelling at each other to calm down.
And it got me thinking about the US election. Maybe that’s what I have been doing – eavesdropping on America. For the past year and a half I have been reading SO much stuff online, from BOTH sides of the political divide, trying to get my head around all the issues, all the debates, all the opinions and accusations. There seems to be far more information available online about this election than there was during the 2004 race, and I am spending hours every day reading as much of it as I can. My husband wants this election to be over, he wants his wife back.
So I have been listening in on the US election, and there’s a lot of yelling going on.
If I had popped my head into my daughter’s bedroom yesterday afternoon and asked them to please try to resolve the disagreement without shouting, or if I had suggested a solution to their problem, or taken sides, or meddled at all, I’m quite certain they both would have looked at me with the sort of contempt reserved for people who stick their heads in where they aren’t welcome.
But here’s the thing. I want my kids to be respectful to each other. I don’t want my younger daughter to ‘win’ an argument by telling her sister that her head looks like a monkey’s butt. I don’t want my older daughter to ‘win’ an argument by throwing the Cookie Monster at her sister and slamming the door loudly on her way out.
I know they will always fight, and they will always find something to disagree on. I have two sisters and I’m not so old that I can’t remember fighting over clothes and chores. I know it’s a bit much to hope for while they’re still kids, but eventually I hope that my girls will be able to to have a civil discussion, where each daughter is allowed to state their side of the story in an honest and mature way, without either one of them resorting to nasty attacks involving soft toys.
And when they grow up and get involved in heated online discussions with people who disagree with their point of view, I hope they will be able to keep their anger and frustration in check, or simply recognise the moment when it’s better to just walk away.