Learning the Process
Tom is curious and friendly and adventurous and everything you'd ever want in a boy, save the day that you need him to sit still for three minutes while you jab holes in a piece of paper to help decide the fate of the world. I plop him on the floor, hand him a small wooden locomotive I unexpectedly find in my pocket and set to voting. I slide the ballot into the slot, punch my first choice the big one, President and catch a glimpse of tiny feet crawling under the booth partition and out of sight.
"Tom!" I yelp.
A voice from the next booth says, "Hello" and there's my son's unmistakable a laugh. I lunge around the corner and scoop him up in my arms and I apologize to the woman who is standing there and she laughs, too.
And the vague, buoyant cheer is infectious. It's something about voting. This woman, this anonymous woman who I might completely disagree with, who might just as easily deride my choices and I are so caught up in the tiny civic pleasure of making our voices heard that we smile and laugh and look around at our neighbors and say, "This is pretty cool." For all the bile that politics brings out in people, for all the endless attacks and sniping and mean-spiritedness, for everything that's wrong with the process, there's still the simple happiness of gathering together and taking part.
I plant my son on my hip and head back to my booth and Tom peeks over my shoulder and waves a small goodbye.