I discovered my 2nd grader, Jonah, has been watching the news. When I leave the room he is watching Ninjago, and when I come back he is watching the news. “If we’re watching anything during dinner, it’s going to be the news,” used to be my husband’s threat to the children when they asked for television during meals. Neither of us expected our boys to run excitedly to the table and ask to watch the election.
Of course I made it a rule that they can only watch the news if I am in the room, so I can change the channel if something inappropriate turns up. Watching election coverage with my children has been enlightening, as has observing how they pick up on subtle cues from us, based partially on our own comments and on which channel we are choosing. It wasn’t a surprise when my kids cheered for Mitt Romney during the debates, or remarked, “I hope Mitt wins,” as I put them to bed the night before Election Day.
And while my kids’ school focused on teaching them about the electoral college, how government works, and even let them conduct their own polls and campaigns for things like Convertibles vs. SUVs (Jonah campaigned for convertibles but was convinced by the SUV party to swing his vote), Presents vs. Candy (Audrey chose candy…she’s 2), and Hanukkah vs. Purim, teaching them how to be a gracious winner and how not to be a sore loser needs to be continued at home, as well. I watched as Facebook became an outlet for nasty name-calling, slander, and ungracious winning/sore losing after the results were in. I would be disappointed and ashamed if my own children ever behaved that way.
That is why, before the results came in, I chose to say to my children, “Boys, no matter who wins, we’re happy for the winner, because getting to be President of the United States is so cool. What an awesome job to have!”
It is moments like this that I am happy I have Judaism to guide me. Shmirat HaLashon (Guard Your Tongue) by the Chofetz Chaim guides us in our choice of speech. Being a sore loser means speaking negatively about the winner and insulting those who support him. What a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about the laws of Shmirat HaLashon!
In local news, I campaigned for home-made whole-wheat pizza. My children campaigned for the pizza place. Their abandoned uneaten home-made slices last night tell me that the results are in. Oh well, I tried.