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Big Guy, The Bomber and The Cain

Submitted by on Wednesday, 8 October 2008 No Comment

I almost sent the guys to my room last night when the presidential debate came on.

Its 6 p.m. start here on the West Coast meant I’d have to disrupt their nightly Noggin fest by watching something slightly — but only slightly — more substantive than “Wow Wow Wubbzy.”

I remembered all those Sundays growing up when Pawpaw would plop in front of “Meet the Press” and figured they’d squawk.

Part of the problem with political TV and Pawpaw, though, was he was a ranter. And seeing as how he was to the right of Archie Bunker, it was easy for him to find something to rant about when it came to the media.

Wonder what would happen if I watched without ranting. If, instead of giving in to their demands for still more cartoons, I stuck to the “one TV running at a time rule” and kept them close by while the debate was on. Could it turn into a teachable moment?

I’m big on political teachable moments. I’ve dragged the guys to the polls with me since they were still drooling, and Big Guy looks forward to our trips to “go boating.” It could have something to do with the nice poll workers who ply them with stickers and Hershey kisses.

They caught glimpses of the convention and earlier debates. Big Guy’s still ticked because we didn’t get to actually go to the conventions, because there were fireworks and that’s a sure sign of fun.

He knows the candidates names — sort of. Barack Obama used to be “The Bomber” and John McCain morphed into “The Cain.” He knows Mom thinks this stuff is important.

But they’ve never had to endure 90 minutes of political dialog.

“How long’s that?” Big Guy asked.

“That’s three ‘Batmans’” I said.

Massive groan from Big Guy.

Slowly, though, he got into it.

It’s easy to underestimate how much 5-year-olds know because they can’t always express what’s on their minds except when they’re insulting their siblings. But if you listen closely, you’ll catch glimpses of budding intellects. Teeny tiny buds to be sure, but growth nonetheless.

He caught on to calls for reform, as McCain said, “I know how to fix this economy, and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, and stop sending $700 billion a year overseas.”

Big Guy: “It sounds like he wants to change the rules. Can he do that? Can he change the rules by himself?”

Oh, dear. I’d love to delve into that one, but “separation of powers” is a lengthy discussion. As Tom Brokaw said at about that time, next question!

Big Guy might have been the only one in the country who bit on McCain’s insinuations about Obama’s “secrets.”

“Mommy, what’s Mr. Obama’s secret? Why doesn’t he just tell us?”

Most importantly, though, he picked up on tone, as McCain launched his “Jello on the wall” attack.

Big Guy: “Why was that other man being so mean to Mr. Obama?”

Heck of a question, kid. Because I don’t think it has to be that way.

He grew bored at that point, asking every “how much longer” every 15 seconds. Not bad, though, for a little bug.

Maybe today we’ll hit “I’m Just a Bill” on YouTube. We still need to talk more about that separation of powers thing.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg.

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