(Just a warning, I feel like this post is about to be filled with adverbs. Apologies.)
Remember how, a couple of days ago, I encouraged everyone to bring their 600 children with them to vote? Ostensibly, this offers an example of civic pride and shows your kids long lines of people who care enough about our country to make their voices heard. It shows what a great place America is, when you see lines filled with people of all sizes, shapes, colors and, uh, smells. IT'S A VALUABLE TEACHING MOMENT!
Pretty sure this is what I said. Or what I implied. Or somesuch.
So, today, to put my money where my loud mouth is, I took my own 600 children with me to go vote early. Technically, I have only 3 kids, but it sures feels like 600 when you're waiting in line at the grocery store in front of floral department and behind a row of voting booths that begin to take on the appearance of giant, precarious, dominoes waiting to be knocked over on top of several (probably ordinarily very friendly) geriatric cranks.
On the way to the early voting place I announced to the kids, "Hey! Who wants to go vote?" They were very enthusiastic, piping up with, "I do! But I have to poop first!" and "Can I bring the Kindle Fire?" and "When you go up on stage will we sit in the audience?"
This elicted a round of explanations and a trip to the restroom. Then we were ready.
Upon arrival at the grocery store, we were excited to notice that everyone else in line had probably cast their first ballot in the Harding-Cox presidential election. Perhaps we could ask them pointed questions about the history they've lived through. Perhaps we could just whisper and hope to not get caned.
Bucking the trend (har), were two adorable hipsters in front of us. One of these adorable hipsters was also name Kari - elicting this question from one of the poll workers, "Oh, wow, are you related? Is it a family name?"
At first glance, the folks in line were all friendly. We were all there to vote, right? It's a celebratory thing! Hooray! The big brown eyes of my spawn even managed to earn a few begrudging smiles. But then the people in line were done with us. Initial smiles faded. My brood and I were not being Serious Enough About Voting. We did not bring the correct Gravity To The Situation. And, probably, the children's attempts at small talk ("So, have you heard of Minecraft?" "Do you know my nurse, Anne?" "I learned a bad word in school today that starts with an F") did not help our cause at all. Ten minutes later in line and our relationship with our elder line-mates had grown fractious. Perhaps a metaphor for the country at-large?
Ike-a-saurus was doing his best to imitate one of those whirlygig firework things that spins out of control until it lands on your face and sets your hair on fire. The girlchild was doing her best to spell the bad word that starts with an F that she learned about at school today (I swear she didn't learn it from me. She can't read my blog yet.) The older boychild was attempting to thwart polling place rules by turning on his iPod to play his portable Minecraft. I was attempting to prove to my elders that I am not the worse mom ever, and that I take voting very seriously, and that is, in fact, why I brought the children to begin with, because isn't it valuable to teach them---- Yeah, no one cared.
Here is where I made my first big mistake. (First, you ask? Surely, everything up until this point has been a mista--- NOPE.) My mistake was agreeing to let the people in line behind me go ahead of me so that I could get a quick refresher on how the voting machines work. I was pretty sure I could handle the knob and the buttons, but I didn't want to do anything stupid to render my vote useless.
400 hours later when the poll worker in charge of explaining the machines was finished with her spiel and with waving around her laminated aircraft-safety-looking pictorial instructions, the kids were staging a revolt and there were no open booths left.
Ike threw himself into a display of roses and the girlchild entagled her arms around my waist so that I was trapped in a kind of parasitic yoga position.
Finally, a booth opened up in the middle of all the other booths. There was barely room for me in there, with my pointy elbows, so imagine how it worked as I tried to crowd the kids around me. Immediately, Ike began to yell, "I CAN'T SEE! I CAN'T SEE!" and the oldest boychild began laughing and then asking questions like, "What does straight party mean? Isn't that demeaning to gay people?"
At this point, I was still trying to put in the damn validation code.
The woman next to us turned around and snarled at the oldest boychild. "You may not lean on the booth, you will knock it over!" She had huge nostrils and was possibly a witch, though she wasn't wearing gloves and I couldn't see if her feet had no toes.
Sam backed away quickly. Ike continued jumping.
"I'm going to take Ike to the men's restroom," my six-year-old daughter offered, helpfully. "NO!" I shouted, and everyone turned, yet again, to stare at us.
"Just, please, please, be quiet and stand still. Just for a few minutes," I begged the children. They appeared to not hear me, so I tried again in my Zuul voice and they quieted down.
So I quickly ran through through my ballot, voted for everyone who is not a sociopath woman-hater, and just as I clicked CAST BALLOT I turned to catch Ike playing bongos on the possible-witch's ample hiney.
"No!" I shouted. "You do not play drums on people's butts!"
And with that I whisked the 600 children out of the grocery store and into the parking lot. We happily affixed our "I voted early" stickers, and breathed in the humid afternoon air that smelled and felt like chicken nugget jello.
"Can we get chicken nuggets?" the children asked immediately, and in unison.
"No," I said.
"But this is a democracy!" one smart mouth countered. "We should get a vote!"
So I let them vote and when they proved a majority for chicken nuggets I invalidated all of their votes because they could not provide me proper identification.
In conclusion, I would like to continue advising everyone to vote, but would also like to amend my initial plea to bring all your children with you. I'm not saying don't bring your children, I'm just saying you might want to plan some extra time. That's all. And feed them beforehand. And use your Zuul voice in the car before you get into the polling place. And remind everyone that drumming on people's butts is a thing best enjoyed at home, or when you are visiting Uncle Joe Biden.
Also, it's a good idea if everyone poops first.
Now go vote!