Owie! Last Saturday, the children and I had the opportunity to suffer for our country as we marched in not one, but two parades in support of our congressional candidate.
The first parade took place in the morning. Since I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, I forced Sarah to come along with me. This wasn’t too difficult after I told her how cute Mr. Candidate’s son was. Sarah was assigned to be a “sign girl,” and I got to pass out fliers. Those of us handing out the fliers were given strict instructions to stay at the front of our parade entry. This turned out to be utterly impossible. I jogged along as fast as my broken toe could carry me, but too many people were actually interested in Mr. C. I had to keep answering important questions such as, “Is he here?” “What does he look like?’ “Did he play college football?” Interestingly enough, when I replied that he had indeed played college football, all of the men would say something to the effect of, “Yeah, he’s awesome! I’ll vote for him!” Apparently skill as a college athlete has a direct correlation to your effectiveness as a politician. Who knew?
After frantically racing down the parade route in an attempt to blanket the spectators with flyers and dazzle them with signs, we returned home to rest our weary feet. Really, someone should have warned me that marathon training was a prerequisite for campaigning. Then, six hours later, we were at it again.
This time, I was able to take my three oldest children to help. Sarah, who had grudgingly agreed to attend ONLY the morning parade, had a sudden change of heart and arranged to leave work early so that she could join us. It *may* have had something to do with Mr. C’s previously mentioned very cute son. We arrived at our gathering location. Interestingly enough, the enemy (Mr. C’s opponent) was assigned the neighboring area. It wasn’t tense at all, really it wasn’t. This time we weren’t allowed to pass out flyers (whew!), so Daniel and I were assigned to hold signs, Sarah was chosen to be a candy girl, and Emma was given a flag to carry. As per the parade’s rules, we were supposed to have entertainment. We already had cool 50’s tunes and unicyclers, but the flag carriers were jokingly told to make sure they danced as they went down the parade route. Emma took this to heart. She danced, she twirled, she skipped, she waved her flag…I was exhausted just watching her. But she was very, very entertaining.
Once the parade was over, the real adventure began. First of all, you must understand that I am directionally challenged. In order for me to find my way anywhere, I must have a map. I had printed out a handy-dandy map to help me find the parade’s starting point, but I left it in the Suburban which was unfortunately parked in an area of windy side streets. In my desire to avoid post-parade crowds once the parade was over, I decided to take a short-cut. We ended getting hopelessly lost. It was growing dark, and we were stuck on Apple Lane, or something silly like that. After walking approximately 2,000 miles, we finally found our way back to a main street, only to realize that we were about three blocks from the parade’s ending point, where we’d started the whole ordeal. So we began again, this time taking no shortcuts, and were able to eventually drag our poor, aching bodies back into our suburban.
Lessons learned from today:
Always, always, take a map to strange cities and never, ever take short-cuts.
Congressional candidates work HARD. As tired as we were, Mr. C must have been completely exhausted at the end of the day. He spent the entirety of both parades racing back and forth across the streets, trying to shake as many hands as possible. In between parades, he had meetings and more campaigning. And yet he was gracious, thoughtful, and never lost his smile the whole time. Go Mr. C!
The real payoff came when Sarah turned to me and said, “Mom, the people who run our country are just like regular people. He jokes around with me and everything. And all of the helpers are regular people, too.” I think this is such an important lesson to learn. Even in this cynical era, “regular” people CAN make a difference, if they are willing to take a stand and work hard. It really is that simple.
I’m so glad that I have this opportunity to let my children see just a tiny bit of the behind-the-scenes action of politics. Too few people know that all of the real decisions are made long before the November elections take place. The real power lies in the caucuses, the conventions, and the primaries, where ordinary people have a chance to speak their minds and make decisions. I certainly don’t have any goals to have one of my children go into politics, but now they’ve seen that they really can do it, if they so desire. So I guess the blisters were worth it.
Oh, and by the way, Sarah worked up the courage to talk to Mr. C’s son during the second parade. She is now INSISTING that I take her to help with next week’s parades, too. 😉