today was a whirlwind of a day. i'm not sure anyone i work with got much sleep, and it turns out the kids didn't get much sleep either. the kindergartners came in excitedly talking about how this bark brama, or barack baracka, or backabackabacka guy won. one explained to me in an excited, rushed voice, how he'd had a slumber party with his family last night so they could stay up and watch the speeches. (for the record, i couldn't stay up that late, and at first i couldn't believe their parents let them stay up. but then again, if you came to this country for hope and a better life, well, this election is probably more meaningful to you than i can possibly understand).
i got goosebumps listening to a table packed of kindergartners chattering on about obama, how he won, how he got the most votes, how he's the man. when pressed they truthfully knew very little about what any of it meant, but they could feel the excitement in the air at their houses. they didn't know why, but they knew last night was big.
later in the day the first graders (who actually know about the election process and understand what's going on) chatted about their election day experiences. one little one (who is african american) described in detail what it was like when she went into the voting booth with her mom and her mom let her fill in the circle for barack obama. i can imagine the goosebumps this mom must have felt, allowing her six year old to fill in the circle to vote for an african american for president. this mom is fighting hard and is one of those parents i consider a hero. that moment of watching her daughter vote for an african american- can you think of a better wish she's ever had for her daughter? to grow up not questioning whether or not she can be president?
these are the first graders who were all born after 9/11. they don't know what it's like to live in our country and not be scared of horrible terrosts acts. yet now, they wont ever fully understand why this election was such a big deal. this belief, that anyone can be president, will follow them throughout life. when they're in their high school history classes they'll talk about what they were doing in first grade when the first african american was elected president. they'll know it was an important day, but wont fully know why. this is a generation who will grow up believing in the possibilities of life, instead of the limits.
i know we may not all agree on who should be our 44th president, but to take this moment and watch six year olds experience this event- goosebumps.
republican-mr. lipstick's friend charles mitchell wrote an incredible post today which i think sums up the meaning of this day for my kids, their parents, and our country.