8 reasons not to watch election returns with your four-year old

If you have been reading the book of alice for more than a few seconds, then you probably know The Kidling is civic-minded.

What’s that you say? You have only been reading the book of alice for a few seconds? I’ll let you get caught up (see here, here, here, here, and here).

Ready? Okay, now that everyone is on the same page: the election. The Kidling was pretty excited about the whole deal. The Parents took her with us to the polls before pre-school in the morning, and Alice was beside herself with anticipation. Then… she went to school and went out to dinner before returning home to watch the results come in. And the waiting wasn’t pretty.

In the brief period of time Alice watched returns with us, her chosen candidate was behind in electoral votes. Explaining the nuance of why we did or didn’t need to worry wasn’t working, and her stress level was rising. We eventually decided it was time to send her to bed, but I promised to come in her room and tell her if we found out Obama won.

Notice I didn’t promise to wake her, just to tell her. When I went up to bed, I tiptoed into her room and said, “Obama won,” before turning around to tiptoe right back out. The Mama keeps her promises. Perhaps not the spirit, but the letter.

But this story isn’t about parental candor, it is about The Kidling’s rising blood pressure during that ever-so-brief time she watched returns with us. As such, I present eight reasons not to watch election results with your four-year-old pundit:


“Who’s winning now?”

“Mitt Romney”



“I want our team to win!”


“How many points do they have?”


“So far, six people have voted for Barack Obama!” *


“Who has more points?”

“Sweetie, it hasn’t changed.”

“Oh… Mitt Romney?”


“Somebody is in the lead, you know.”

“Yes, someone is always in the lead.”

“And our president isn’t. I bet Barack Obama feels sad.”


(looking at photos of the candidates side-by-side)

“Is that Miss Romney’s photo?” **


(seeing an exciting watch party on ABC News and mistaking it for a polling place)

“Too bad we didn’t come to that place to vote.” ***

And yes, these comments (and many more) all came in a five-minute period. Which is why we tucked her in.


* The Kidling does struggle a bit with the scope and enormity of U.S. presidential politics.

** In Alice’s defense, “Mitt” isn’t a name she had heard before yesterday morning when she asked who the other candidate was.

*** Fine, so our precinct was pretty tame at 7:30 in the morning.

About The Mamahttp://kidlingville.comProfessional talker, editor, emailer, problem solver, adjunct lecturer, blogger, and mother to the brilliantly absurd Kidling.

15 thoughts on “8 reasons not to watch election returns with your four-year old

  1. When I was but a wee lass back in Illinois, my father’s business was the site of a polling place. I found it *endlessly* fascinating to watch people come in and out all day, taking long pieces of paper and disappearing into those flimsy little curtained booths, then marching out a short time later with a smile, frown, or look of angst on their face. I was always wondering what in the hell they could be doing in there…. Now I know. This democracy business is serious stuff. :-). Good for The Kidling for showing an interest in civics at such a tender age. May she always be so enthusiastic.

  2. LOL, Emilia (also four) was pretty excited about the election, too. She likes Barack Obama because she thinks he looks like her dad. (Yeah, they are basically twins. Not.) She didn’t know much except that Obama is the president and he was trying to stay the president and she drew a picture of him once, so she thought he should win. So she told me to wake her up and tell her who won.

    She was very upset not to see the rest of the PBS special live election coverage. I would have traded places with her!

  3. After the last Canadian election, our children were inadvertently convinced the country would now be ruled by Voldermort and the Death Eaters. (We were reading Harry Potter at the time, and some metaphors got mixed…) 🙂 Thumbs up for clever, engaged kids.

    • Fabulous. I am so, so glad they were wrong. Those Death Eaters scare the hell out of me.

      Cheers to our awesome kids and cheers to you! Thanks for stopping by.


  4. I’ll just share two Evalyn comments and I would have LOVED hanging with Alice. It would have been much better for me than the snarky comments my friends and I kept making in our “virtual election party.”
    (election night) “When can we we go vote?” “Oh sweetie, mommy and I already voted.” *crying ensues* “I wanted to go with you…”
    (next morning) “Who won last night?” “Barack Obama won.” “YEAH!!!!!!” *dancing ensues* “Daddy aren’t you happy?” “Yes sweetie, I’m really happy.” “Why aren’t you dancing?”

    • Seriously, Adam. You didn’t dance? Fun hater.

      I confess I suffer no small degree of anxiety in waiting until election day to vote. Alice has always come with me, and I figure her interest might be fleeting so I’d better encourage it while it is authentic. That said, if I ever end up away from home or in the hospital on election day, then my concern for her civic enthusiasm will lose out to actual participation.

      Also? I adore Evalyn.

  5. Cody and Carter somehow got it into their heads that if Obama won they would get pizza. They were quite upset when Mitt was leading. So was I, but not because pizza was on the line. 😉

    Did Alice ask you if you told her when Obama won?

    • No, she didn’t ask. I just showed her the newspaper and said, “Guess who won!” She didn’t have much chance, really.

      What about your boys? Did you give them a prize? Or did you tell them having a president who mirrors their values and priorities is prize enough? And if the latter, did they groan and say, “No, Mom, really. What is our prize?”

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