As we walked to our neighborhood polling place -- a garage on a quiet cul de sac north of Los Angeles -- the kids skipped along, excitedly talking about who they were going to vote for. At 5, 7 and 8 years old, they've got years to go before their vote really counts, but my husband and I both believe you're never too young to find your voice.
After the kids checked us in and we were handed our ballots, we slipped into two separate makeshift booths, my daughter with my husband and the boys with me. "Oooh, ooh, ooh... pick that guy... pick that guy!" my son Brady squealed. We started with our vote for President, then walked through the state and county choices, before giving an age-appropriate lesson on some of the propositions. Seriously, I'm not ready to talk capital punishment or whether porn stars should be forced to wear condoms with my not-ready-for-primetime voters.
I loved the way their little faces beamed as they received their "I Voted" sticker, each of them so proud of being a part of something so much bigger than themselves and our quiet community. We don't talk about political drama or the hateful comments spewed by both parties, we try to instill a sense of American pride in our children and help them understand that voting is not only our right in this country, it is our privilege.
As we walked to school afterwards and signed them in late to class, it occurred to me that we're all so busy trying to get kids out the door and on-time for school that we miss a huge opportunity to teach some of the biggest lessons they'll ever learn. I think schools should give a free late pass on election day to those who arrive wearing an "I Voted" sticker. Because whatever our kids may learn in 20 minutes of class time every four years can never compare to the real-life social studies my children experienced in the voting booth.
Did you bring your kids to vote?