Today is Election Day and my seven-year-old son, Norrin, has the day off from school. And tonight, when I get home from work, I’ll walk with Norrin and my husband, Joseph, to our assigned polling place. We make it a point to vote as a family. Over the last few years, it’s become sort of a tradition.
I grew up in a household where politics were never discussed. I remember being in the 2nd or 3rd grade and asking my mother who she voted for. As a kid, I begged to go with her, because I wanted to see what it was like. But my mother never took me and she never told me who she voted for. “It’s none of your business,” she said. And my father didn’t vote because he believed that his vote wouldn’t make a difference.
I never cared much for politics as I got older. Like my dad, I believed my one little vote didn’t make a difference.
But Joseph is extremely political. Over the last twelve years, he’s taught me to pay attention and to care. Voting has become a priority. I’ve realized that my vote does make a difference.
The first time we brought Norrin into the election booth with us was for the presidential election in 2008. It wasn’t something we planned on, we just didn’t have a babysitter and didn’t want to vote separately. We waited on a line that wrapped around the block. I had never been part of such excitement. At the time Norrin was just diagnosed with autism and was too young to understand but I realized I was giving him the opportunity I never had as a child. Since then, whenever we vote, Norrin is with us.
In our home, we openly discuss politics. Joseph and I talk about who we want to vote for and why. Norrin is almost eight years old, but he still doesn’t really understand voting. But we bring him into the booth with us when we vote. We show him the buttons and we talk about who we vote for. With my hand over his, we cast our vote together.
We make Election Day a teachable moment. I want Norrin to be a part of our voting process. I want him to grow up knowing that voting is not only his right, but his responsibility.
Do you talk about who you vote for with your kids? Will they join you in the voting booth?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.
photo credit: istock.com