Saturday, March 10, 2007

Children are Natural Protestors

Children are Natural Protestors
Amy Banbury

Children are natural protestors. They instinctively know to go limp when they are being dragged by an authority figure to an unwanted destination. They have the fantastic ability to loudly repeat the same thing over and over again without tire, and have been known to hunger strike.

I didn’t think twice if I was going to bring my kids to the CODEPINK peace rally or not. They had already been to many marches, parades for peace, political meetings, etc. and were well versed in making fun of George W. Bush. They’d love it! Right?! I told them about it in advance so they could look forward to it and help out if they wanted.

This is a brief summary of the days preceding the rally:

Random day #1—Scour the thrift stores looking for blazing pink apparel for the family. I manage to find my daughter a kickass pair of cords and a cheetah print sweater. Let me repeat, cheetah print. That’s her favorite pattern, other than pink camouflage. “Oh, I’m not wearing THAT- I haaaate pink,” she whines. “No, you don’t understand,” I say. “we’re all going to wear goofy pink stuff to catch people’s attention- but you! You’re going to look like a rock star out there!” This doesn’t work and the conversation quickly melts into a tantrum and a rant on what is appropriate for seven-year-old girls to wear. My son seizes the opportunity to jump into the unexpected chaos and repeatedly remind me that he is not wearing pink no matter how hard I try to make him. Never mind that I never said he had to.

Random day #2—Kade wants to know if he can pee off the pedestrian overpass we’ll be on. Brighid expresses her fear of walking on the overpass. They make sure I understand they still don’t want to wear pink.

Random day #3—The kids are outside drawing on the sidewalk when their dad comes home. I hear them call him over to look at their art. Much laughter ensues and I come out to see what it’s all about. Among their drawings is a figure that is supposed to be George W. Bush, and Kade is especially proud to show that he has drawn him with his peter hanging out of his pants. As I was going to say something about the inappropriateness of it, my husband grabs the chalk and reprimands him himself. “No Kade, that’s wrong. There’s no way the president’s peter is that big.” The kids spend quality time with their father laughing and creating unusable potty talk slogans for the rally until dark.

Random day #4—I am making a banner for the overpass. Since it is rather large, I am in the family room. “Whatcha doin’ mom?” is the question of the evening. I have patiently answered it approximately 54 times, along with saying “Please don’t stand on the banner” and “Please don’t walk on the banner” and “I TOLD you not to let the cats back in!” many, many times. I’m pissed. I try a new tactic. I employ the children in helping me brush the glue on the letters and then roll them with a brayer after I place them. This works for seven minutes before the bickering over who does what and how boring this is starts. We continue this way until Dad comes home. All four of us are working on it now and the kids are telling him how much they like making banners and how hard they’ve been working on this one. What?! Kade is still talking about how he wants to pee off the overpass. Brighid wants to know if she’ll be in the newspaper.

Morning of the peace rally—Of all the days, this is the one my kids sleep in on. I wake them up an hour before it begins. I can get ready in 5 minutes. I, again, forget that kids can’t do that. I quietly lay out Brighid’s hip pink outfit at the foot of her bed. She obviously feels the pinkness radiating up her toes because she is crying and whining about how much she hates pink. She hasn’t even opened her eyes yet. I bribe her with Pop Tarts to wear the pants. I make sure Kade pees before we go, and we rush out the door.

We were the first ones there. I ate most of the snacks I packed for the kids while we waited. They were already (or still) tired and I was the one who had to pee.

Luckily, they did not need to use their usual protesting skills. They had a great time of tallying the honks, finding treasure on the overpass (broken Harry Potter flying key, some bottlecaps, etc.), eating pretzels and Nutella, and laughing at all the burly men waving their pink feather boas. Brighid did get her picture in the paper and Kade managed to control his primal desires.

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