Jan 20, 201708:00 AM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
Interviewing the Future
A 10-year-old and a 4-year-old discuss how to be a good president
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These topics beckon me because they’re so easy, so tempting. So blissfully apolitical.
And yet it seems blatantly dishonest to not talk about what’s on my mind right now, which is, of course, the Trump inauguration.
I have tried, since Nov. 9, to broaden my “bubble” by reading viewpoints on the right. I have tried to bury my head in the sand by reading all the trashy fiction I could get my hands on. I’ve tried activism, writing and calling my elected representatives. I’ve told myself that I need to shut up, that I don’t want to risk losing friends or alienating people I have to live and work with, people I truly adore as long as we don’t talk politics. I’ve told myself that if I don’t speak up that I’m complicit, the worst kind of coward.
In the end, I have just fallen into daily life, taking solace in routine and cooking and work and baking and reading and coffee and wine and Netflix and chocolate and of course close friends and family — not all of whom are of my same political bent. Case in point: Will I be attending any protest marches on Saturday? No, because I will be attending Ruby’s lacrosse game — with a group of other parents, all of whom I like, some of whom are Trump supporters. We’ll cheer for one another’s kids and talk about the weather and the class gift for the silent auction and which King Cakes we like and how messy our kids’ rooms are. The country can certainly feel bitterly divided, but somehow we manage to find common ground and enjoy one another’s company.
I find everyday things immensely comforting, but the main thing right now that gives me true hope is my daughters, who are young and idealistic and smart and funny and brave. I asked them both to talk to me about what they think a leader should be.
Ruby, 10: Leaders need to be kind. They need to know how to do the right thing and then do it. And they need to have faith.
Me: What do you mean by “faith”?
Ruby: “Faith” means they are true to their God or gods. That they do what they know is what God would want.
Me: What if they don’t believe in God? Can you still be a good leader if you don’t believe in God?
Ruby: Sure. You can still do the right thing if you don’t believe in God. You just have to respect other people’s beliefs in whatever they believe.
Me: What’s the most important thing for a leader to do?
Ruby: You need to be friendly and respectful because you need to listen to other people when they’re saying stuff. You need to listen to their experiences because you might not have had those experiences, but they have, and you need to listen. Maybe they have lived longer and have experienced more. Or maybe somebody crazy and wild went skydiving or someone went to sleep-away camp, and they have experiences from those things that the president should respect if he or she — because the president can be a woman, you know — hasn’t experienced them. Just listen to people.
Me: What would you do if you were president?
Ruby: I’d try to sit down with gun-makers and make guns less dangerous. I’d make rules for the good of the community. I’d make sure women knew they were entirely equal to men. I’d make programs to help the poor — like homeless shelters and ways to feed people who are hungry and make sure kids who were living in poverty got a good education.
Me: Sounds good to me. Georgia, what about you? How would you feel if you were president?
Georgia, 4: Really happy. I’d be a great president.
Me: What does a leader do?
Georgia: A leader has to show people where to go even if they’re not looking.
Me: And what would you do if you were elected president?
Georgia: I would throw a big party. It would be an American party — the loudest, biggest party ever! I’d bake cupcakes and give them to everyone and put up decorations.
Me: Cupcakes? What kind?
Georgia: Chocolate. With American sprinkles.
Me: Why cupcakes?
Georgia: Because they would smile. Cupcakes make everyone happy.
Me: Do you want to be president one day?
Georgia: Yes! I’d be the best one yet!
Of that, at least, I have no doubt.