|Watching Obama, listening for jelly beans.|
Papa-Bug majored in political science and has a special Stars & Stripes tie for election day, as well as a John Philip Sousa playlist. Naturally our family isn’t going to let something like a National Election, with all it’s educational possibilities pass through the edges if our awareness just because we are only in first-grade. Nope. Brother-Bug is learning all about The Election.
As I wrote here, he enjoys looking at the electoral maps over at 538. We are helping him understand a few of the simpler issues. His Godmommies live is Washington so a lot of our issue focus is on Marriage Equality, which has the benefit of being not scary (like global warming or gun control) and not very complicated (like taxes or social security).
So we have watched a couple of speeches…but…well, he is only six. They aren’t very compelling speeches for a kid. How to engage a six-year old in the DNC?
We took the concept of the drinking game, but decided that doing shots with our children was probably not the thing.
Papa-Bug made a list of words and phrases President Obama was likely to say during his acceptance speech. Each person got a copy, we got out some jelly beans, and settled down to watch. We didn’t watch it live; we waited until it was on the Internet so we could pause for questions and clarification.
The list included words like:
*Marriage or Married
*Democrat or Republican
*God Bless America
and so on.
If Brother-Bug heard a word in his list he got one (or more jelly beans). Papa-Bug scored the words – “my opponent” was worth one bean “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” was worth five. We had to help him hear the actual words and occasionally prompt him to bring his attention back to the speech. I popped extra jelly beans in Sister-Bug’s mouth to keep her quiet.
All in all, he watched the whole speech and earned about twenty jelly beans. A lot of the rhetoric went right over his head, but we expected it to. We weren’t wanting him to understand every little thing, but for him to engage with the idea of a major speech. And he did.
The debates are coming up. Brother-Bug was already looking forward to them, but now that he knows there are jelly beans involved, he’s really excited.
Because the debates have a different format and are somewhat less predictable than the DNC speech, we are going to change the game a little bit. We are creating just a few word groups – foreign, economy, or?? – and every time he catches something from one of those groups he will get a jelly bean.
To get ready for the debates we will watch President Bartlett in The West Wing (early season four is all about re-election) and discuss what is going on and why a debate?
And, as we have always done, we will have pizza, beer/root beer, declare November 6th a holiday, and watch the returns come in.