OBSERVATIONS · politics · slice of life

The Mean Man with the Orange Hair #sol16

I typically shut off the morning news as soon as Isabelle enters my bedroom in the mornings. There’s no need for her to hear about ISIS, deadly tornadoes, plane crashes, etc. However, one morning, several months ago, I didn’t turn off the television. Donald Trump was on the small screen. He was yelling about something. But instead of pressing the power button off, I asked Isabelle, “What do you think of that man? Is he nice or mean?”

“He’s mean,” she responded immediately.

“What makes you say that?” I asked.

I believe she said it was something about the tone of his voice. (Clearly, she didn’t understand the scope of the vitriolic message he was spewing, but she didn’t care for his tone).

And that was the end of it — for awhile.

Any time Trump appeared on the news when Isabelle walked into my room for the next few months, she’d ask, “Is that the mean guy?” I would nod somberly. She’s also asked, “Why is he always yelling?” and “Why is he a bad guy?” I’ve done my best to answer her, but it’s been hard to respond in a way that a five-year-old can comprehend.

One day Isabelle overheard Trump call someone stupid. She said, “Why did he say ‘stupid,’ Mommy? Stupid is a bad word!” I didn’t temper my response that time. I told her this wasn’t the way people were supposed to talk. In fact, I probably said too much because she always says “there’s the mean man with the orange hair” (I swear she added the orange hair part on her own.) every time she sees him on TV now (i.e., ever since the day we talked about him calling people “stupid.”)

I never thought Donald Trump would be the front-runner in the Republican race by March 2016! I thought it would be Jeb Bush, John Kasich, or Marco Rubio. Even though I watch “Morning Joe” every morning (and have seen the writing on the wall), I’m still I’m stunned that Trump — who wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of this country, put a temporary ban on Muslims, defund Planned Parenthood, and takes to Twitter to malign people — might become the Republican nominee. My daughter has recognized President Obama on television for the past three years (and affectionately refers to him as “O-bama!”). She has heard snippets of him speaking in a dignified manner time and time again. I cannot imagine how I would explain how and why our country might choose a man who lacks gravitas and spews hatred to occupy the White House. (I hope that day will never come.)

This morning, The New York Times ran, “How Do You Talk to Your Children About Donald Trump? Thoughtfully.” I felt a wave of relief come over me as I read the article since I am not alone in having issues talking about Donald Trump with my child. It’s a thing. Parents and educators are challenged to talk about Trump with  children since so much of how he acts goes against the kinds of things we teach our children on a day-to-day basis.

For instance, Trump’s behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in schools. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Kathy Maher, a sixth-grade teacher in Newton, Mass., said that election years usually presented an excellent opportunity for students to observe the virtues of the American democratic process. But this year, she said, she worries about the school’s mock-debate season, when someone will have to play Mr. Trump — a candidate who, if he were a student, would be sent straight to the principal’s office.

Unlike most of the parents profiled in the article, my daughter is asleep long before the raucous debates have aired. She hasn’t witnessed the outlandish statements Trump (and some of the other candidates have) made. My daughter is five. We shelter her from the news in an effort to preserve the sanctity of her childhood. However, I cannot shelter her forever. At some point, I’m going to have to explain how someone as bombastic as Trump has made it so far. I’m hoping I won’t have to explain why he’s occupying the White House at this time next year. I can’t even allow my mind to go there right now.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.



23 thoughts on “The Mean Man with the Orange Hair #sol16

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. The fact that such a hateful person might become our president is frightening. I hope for Isabelle’s sake and the sake of all of the nation’s children, that this doesn’t happen.

    1. Look, I don’t agree with all of President Obama’s policies, but I have respect for him and the office he holds. We’ve taken Isabelle by the White House a few times and there’s a certain reverence we have for the place and the office. (Oh, and I volunteered in the Clinton White House so I have a special connection to the place too!) We need our next president to conduct him or herself with dignity for the sake of our country.

  2. I have faith in the American people, that they will come to their senses and do what is best for their country. Here in Canada, Canadians actually defeated the conservative party (our republicans) and PM steven Harper – for a new Liberal leader Justan Trudeau. He campaigned on honesty, comapssion and seeking what was best for Cdns. Now he is visiting the US for a few days.
    Powerful post!

    1. I know. I’ve seen him in the papers and on TV. I don’t know much about him, but we’re planning a family vacation to Canada this summer, so I look forward to learning more!

  3. With four teenagers, we have had fascinating conversations about what we value in leaders. My children don’t have great role models–not politically, athletically, artistically, dramatically… It puts a lot of pressure on schools and on parents, and I’m not sure either are rising to the occasion. The fact that so many are supporting such a mean, racist, conceited, chauvinistic, unqualified candidate is frightening testimony to the declining regard for civility, basic human kindness, and empathy. It’s scary.

  4. Thank you for broaching this topic from this perspective. Just reading the post and the comments above gives me a glimmer of hope that there are still standards of civility we expect from our elected officials. I can’t even imagine “the mean guy with the orange hair” representing us on any global stage.

  5. I understand people’s frustration with “the system” and desire for someone who has not been a life-long politician. Especially with our own PA budget situation. But I agree with everything you write about this specific candidate and our need to be proud and be able to look up to our commander-in-chief. In this way, he doesn’t fit any of the criteria.

    1. Oh, the PA Budget! It makes me sick to think about that. (Too sick to write about publicly. That’s more of an in-person discussion.) And to think we still don’t have a budget from last year and June 30th is a little over three months away!

  6. Yes. My husband and I frequently look at each other and wonder what we are going to do. (Well, we know, but still can’t believe that this is happening!) You have nailed all of this, and thank you for sharing this article link with us. (Walks away from computer all bewildered…)

  7. I plan to check out the New York Times article you posted above; thank you for sharing. And if you ever do figure out how to explain such a person (to adults and children alike) and how he has come so far in his quest to lead our country, please let all of us know!

  8. This is so timely Stacey. I just blogged about a young students’ response to Trump’s behavior. As a teacher, it has been very hard to temper conversations with students and not show my bias, while making it clear we don’t condone this type of behavior. It must be even harder to have that conversation with very young children. “The mean man with the orange hair” really captures the essence of the situation!! Great post!

  9. Children see things for what they are – The mean man with the orange hair nails it! (Isabelle is so smart!) I just can’t watch anymore. The thought that he would be a candidate, much less possibly win the election, is just too much to try to put my head around.

  10. Wow, when there are articles “How to talk to your children about Donald Trump . . . ” We were just across the border talking with some friends in Washington State. They couldn’t even talk about it. So, very challenging. As a Canadian, I am also hoping that Trump does not go further.

  11. Seriously Stacey, I have NO idea how this person has made it so far!!! I listen to him and my stomach turns. I’ve heard people say they love his candor . . . that he says it like it is . . .it’s like he’s hypnotized people! It honestly scares me to think that people in this country not only like him but think he is the answer to our country’s problems . . . YIKES!

  12. I am so glad you wrote about this topic, and appreciate your approach and perspective. As well, I look forward to reading the NYT article.

  13. Thanks for sharing the article. What a challenge. I actually am glad that I’m not in the classroom having to manage lessons and conversations about the election process, our history, etc. Eight years ago it was so, so exciting to have the Democratic Convention here in Denver and to see the first African-American chosen as their candidate. We visited every place we could to see all that was happening. I’m not sure how I would approach it except to look at the criteria we believe makes a great president and judge by that. Clearly there is more than one who wouldn’t “pass”.

  14. This was a great piece, Stacey. I can’t bear to watch him on t.v., and the thought that he might become our President…unbelievable to me. And then, how do we explain that to our children? Again, your parenting skills are amazing! Again, here’s hoping the “mean man” does not win the country. No wonder so many people are thinking of moving to Canada!

  15. I have a hard enough time talking about this with my adult sons- I just find it hard to make sense of what is happening. It is an interesting time to be from the US living outside the US.

  16. Thank you for writing about this subject. It is troubling that so many people support him. I’m not sure how we are supposed to teach our children how they should behave toward others when the very people who want to be our country’s leader act like spoiled children throwing tantrums and calling names.

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