In our everyday life, we are a family that dines together the majority of the time. It definitely gets tricky with the kids’ sports schedules, but if we aren’t all sitting down together, it’s sports, not work, that is getting in the way. It’s a priority we have set for our family, and we do our best to make family meals happen.
So I thought we had pretty solid family conversations at the dinner table.
I was wrong.
Let me set the scene. It’s August, and we’re in Bruges, Belgium. It’s been a bit rainy, and we decide to try a fondue restaurant for dinner. Stepping inside, it’s intimate and comfortable. You would almost swear you were in Switzerland except that the fondue comes with all you can eat fries.
Before we order, I say to Hubs, “Did you see the newspaper headline about how Trump is doing?” He replies, and suddenly Missa B jumps in.
“Who is Trump?”
We give a basic explanation.
“Do you like him?”
“Why don’t you like him? What does he do that you don’t like?”
So, we go a bit into some of the comments Trump has made (at that point), and who he has offended.
“So who do you like? And why do you like them?”
What started as general questions turned into, I kid you not, a 2-hour conversation about the American political system, the current candidates, previous candidates, what issues divide Americans, and I can’t even remember the rest. It then somehow evolved into an explanation of fascism…and racism…and the political situation in North Korea…and the war in Syria…and refugees….
JJ didn’t say a word for two hours, but it was obvious he was listening, taking it all in, and trying to process. As for Hubs and me, we were pretty much exhausted by the end of the conversation. But, we figured it was a good conversation, so it was worth it.
And then it started up again the next morning.
“So, is it good for the Democrats if Trump does well? Will that help the Democratic Party? How do you think he’ll do?”
And, over two months later, it hasn’t stopped. Except that we visited the D-Day beaches in between, so now Hitler, more information about fascism, and the Nazi party has been thrown into the mix. Even JJ became fully engaged and starting asking lots of questions as well.
I find that sometimes, I just want to sit down to dinner and talk about the weather. And it does happen once in awhile. But, more often than not, the conversations seems to be about past and current world events. We’ll get a break for about a week or so, and suddenly Missa B will, out of the blue, say something like (and these are her words), “Trump is continuing to gain more and more followers. He must be saying something that people like. What makes people want to support him? What is he saying that people want to hear?”
I look at her and have to remind myself that she just turned 10.
That particular question she posed yesterday about what Trump is saying led to a conversation about how politicians phrase messages in general. Which led to questions about whether politicians lie. Which led to a conversation about whether it is ok to lie to get into office.
JJ (age 7) told us adamantly that it is not ok to lie. “And, if I decide to run for President,” he informed us, “I will not lie. And people will look into my eyes and know I am telling the truth so they will decide to vote for me.”
Missa B waffled a bit. “If everyone is lying, then how can you win if you don’t lie? You might have to lie because everyone else is lying as well.”
Seeing the perfect “over-the-top Mom message” moment, I seized it: “You are going to face times in your life when people want you to do something because everyone else is doing it. That’s when you really listen to your heart.” Somehow I went from there to lecturing talking about getting into a car with someone who had a few drinks and having it be the last day of your life. Yea, I know — I tend to go the dramatic route. Subtlety has never been my speciality.
At which point, Missa B said, “Mom. Your whole point makes no sense. You are talking about kids in high school. They can’t drink because they aren’t 21, remember?!”
Right, she’s only 10. She has no clue what is ahead of her.
Or maybe, based on the past 4 months of conversations, she does.
And maybe I need to brush up on politics and world events so I can keep up with her.