31 October 2008

Motherhood: Three Hours in Line for This?

Last night Matilda and I went to a rally for Barack Obama at my university. Coming from the decidedly non-swing state of Massachusetts, I was excited by the prospect of being a part of the political process in that way and of letting Tilly feel like she's a part of it too.

All day people were talking about whether there would be enough room for everyone and some students actually started lining up eight hours before the event. By the time Til and I were able to join the line at 5:45, it was already 6 blocks long and still growing fast. We waited with a few of my fellow students and ate pizza and stood around. Tilly drew in her notebook that she brought and played tic-tac-toe and hangman with people.

She was so excited to be going. We've talked about Obama before and although she's not exactly well-versed on the finer points of his campaign, nor is she really aware of McCain as a possible alternative, she knows that war kills people and that her parents think war is wrong and that George Bush has made a lot of lousy choices that damaged our country and that Obama wants to change all that and make our country a better place. To tell you the truth I'm not sure I could tell you exactly what she was thinking or why she wanted to go, but she did.

Of course the reality of standing in a line for three hours wasn't quite what she had imagined us doing. Still, she was a good sport, and even though there were a few times when I didn't think she was going to make it, she always pulled through.

We passed the protesters, all ten of them, ("I'm NRA and I'm not voting Obama," "Obama roots for Kansas" - which apparently is a football reference, that's a serious game out here) and the counter protesters, all three of them, ("I'm not with stupid --> I'm voting Obama"). We went through the metal detectors and walked around among the university students and local people who had turned out to support Obama.

Til was really excited at first, jumping around and wanting me to push through the crowd with her so she could see better (she settled for being on my shoulders). But Obama wasn't scheduled to start speaking until 9:30, and she was already tired. Each time she complained I asked her to hold out a little bit longer, reminded her how excited she had been to see him and how long we had waited in line.

But by 9:15 she'd had it. She was done, bursting into tears before I could even try to convince her to stay. "I'm just too tired," she said, "I just want to go to bed."

I couldn't refuse, and really, as a mother bringing my young daughter to a late evening rally, I'd known this was a possibility. So we said our goodbyes and headed home. In spite of how tired she was, I could tell she was torn. She did really want to see him.

"Come on," I told her, "let's run and we can be home in time to watch him on TV."

And we did. And even though we didn't actually get to see Obama in person, and even though it could safely be argued that we stood in line for three hours for exactly nothing, I'm still glad I brought her. She got to see how many people around us want things to change, and to be a part of it, and I think that's worth three hours of playing tic-tac-toe and eating pizza on the side of the road.


Annika said...

I can't think of a better way to spend three hours.

Mary said...

Just thought I'd say welcome to the Show Me State! I read you a long time ago when I had just the 2 kids and linked to you while reading comments on other blog sites. Haven't done that in a while and now- you live in my state! Welcome!

Momma Magpie said...

That's fantastic! I took Bella to vote with me last night. She kept asking me, "Momma, where's Obama? When will we see him?" So cute-- like he was going to pop out of the voting machines like a can of soda.

Good job including her in the rally! I wish I would have done that with Bella. There's always 2012...