This is not a political post. I don’t want to start a debate about who the best candidate is to become our next President. You, no doubt, have your opinion and I have mine. We might even agree.
Rather, this is about a question – and answer – my 11-year-old son asked one day last week in a fairly nonchalant manner.
“If Donald Trump loses the election, do you think he’ll call Hillary to congratulate her and concede defeat? I don’t think he will.”
My 11-year-old son doesn’t think that Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee, will concede defeat if he in fact does lose on November 8. And that’s a problem.
It’s a problem for many reasons. First, human decency. Second, the spirit of competition. But more than that, think about the message our candidates are sending to people all over the country, particularly children, with their behavior.
This election has illustrated in a way unlike any election before just how divided we are as a country. OK, so we don’t all agree, but does that mean that it is OK to treat each other with a complete lack of respect?
I don’t think so.
Are we so divided that normal rules of the game – like sportsmanship – have been thrown out the window, and rather than civil discourse we have stooped to hurling insults and lies to one another?
It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.
There are certain things that I expect, regardless of the circumstances. You know, things like the sun rising every morning in the east, that pigs in fact don’t fly, and that the loser of the Presidential election calls the winner to congratulate her or him and concede defeat.
My 11-year-old son is astute enough to realize that in this election, that may not happen. And that’s a problem.
My 11-year-old son has a 9-year-old sister. Throughout their entire young lives, my husband and I have taught them that people are different. We have taught them that many people will think differently than they do, make different choices than they do, and live their lives in a different way than they do. But despite those differences, they still need to treat those people kindly and with respect.
Sadly, respect is something we don’t see much of during this election. But remember, this is not a political post.
Let’s go back to my son’s initial question: If Trump loses, will he concede to Clinton? In other words, is he such a baby that if he loses, will he hold his breath until he turns blue because he didn’t get what he wanted (if he actually wants to be President, which I don’t necessarily believe. But that’s fodder for another post)?
Um, yes. He is such a baby.
And I’ll say it again; that’s a problem.
Every day, my husband and I are trying to teach our children how not to be assholes. Every day provides us with at least one teaching moment for our kids, and every day we hope we are helping them inch one step closer to the ultimate goal: to be decent human beings.
And we are succeeding. We are blessed with two good, kind-hearted, empathetic children who are making their way in this world. And it’s exciting to watch them become the people who they are.
Of course, it’s a work-in-progress with a long, drawn-out lesson plan that is fluid, exhausting, frustrating at times, but downright necessary. These lessons aren’t “one-and-done.” They are lifelong, requiring reminders and reinforcement from us often.
Like the lesson on how to be good winners and good losers.
Lots of people don’t like to lose, my son being one of them. So the lesson of sportsmanship is a constant one in our home.
This summer, our family took up the game of Four Square, playing mainly in the evening after dinner on a court drawn in the street by my kids.
At the beginning of each game, the kids would argue over who got to be King first, and whether or not we allowed any rules. Then, once the game got going, the competitive side of both children came out in full force.
When we first started playing in early summer, my son had a very difficult time whenever he got out. He didn’t like it when his sister called attention to the fact he got out, and he didn’t like to not be King.
At the same time, he tended to gloat a bit whenever he became King and gloat a lot whenever his sister got out.
In other words, he was a horrible loser and a terrible winner.
So, we worked with him throughout the summer on sportsmanship. We helped to temper his competitiveness but not his spirit. We reminded him that we were there to have fun and to be together, and that the game was a means to do so.
Slowly, it started to click. He began to laugh at himself when he missed a shot and he started to applaud his sister when she became King (or Queen, as she calls it). Soon, he became a gracious winner and gracious loser.
He began to display amazing sportsmanship.
So the fact that he is now wondering if one of the two major candidates in a race to hold the most important position in the world is a sore loser poses a problem for me.
I mean, if Trump lacks sportsmanship, why can’t my son and everyone else in the world, for that matter?
Despite what anyone thinks of them, the candidates running for the office of the President are role models. Lots of people, particularly children, look up to them. Yet, they are acting like the children who aspire to be like them.
And if Trump refuses to call the winner to concede defeat on November 8, I’ll have a problem with that.
We – like many parents – work hard with our kids so they know the difference between right and wrong. And I’ll be damned if some orange-tinted, faux-politician, caricature of a businessman is going to take that away from us.
But remember, this is not a political post.