Most storytellers get their passion from a book. For me it was “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. My love for both historical events and personal references made me imagine what my life would’ve looked like had I lived in similar circumstances. That is what books and stories do. They carry us to a different time and help us experience imaginary worlds or a time different than the one we are in right now. I think that is why all of our children are interested in stories from when I was young. I remember asking the same of my parents and now they do it to me.
It starts with our evening routine. As bedtime approaches, we check if their teeth are brushed, clothes are ready for the following day and tuck them in for the night. With each child a common question often gets asked. One that has led me to share about the serious and funny events that have shaped me. Written in story form I will post these timely memories in the hopes our children will cherish it for years to come. Again, it starts with that one question… and a follow-up conversation.
It was 7:30 PM and bed time was fast approaching. Every Mom and Dad anxiously await for this time of the day. A few more minutes and quietness will fill the house. But before that can happen the sacred ritual of goodnight prayers and forehead kisses takes place. The order changes every night. The youngest one is first tonight. Ava is the only girl and often the first to be tucked in. Blake is second and like any middle child he complains of neither being first nor last. Normally the last one gets a chance to really spend time with Dad and ask a question that will delay bedtime. Tonight Caden is last and his question is timely.
Can you tell me a story of when you were young? I bet elections were different when you were young.
Dad smiled and started sharing about his first memory of an election. It was 1990 and he was 8 years old. The Portuguese president was fighting for a second term. “I remember being as young as your sister and our family was spending time in my Dad’s hometown. Where Vovo was born.” “In Medelim, right?” Caden quickly replied as he was proud to know this key detail. “Yes. We found out the current Portuguese president was coming through the town campaigning for his second term in office. His name was Mario Soares and he was one of my Dad’s favorite politicians. I remember being a little kid and my Dad holding me up high and passing me to him.” Dad was quickly interrupted with the obvious question. “So he just passed you to him like a hot potato?” While Caden was covering his mouth under his sheets it was obvious there was grin hiding. “Very funny! Believe it or not, it’s actually normal for people to pass their children to politicians for pictures.” Dad said. “But I’m really not sure there is a picture to show. This was before there were cell phones.” Dad continued “Vovo just liked him because he had fought against the dictatorship.”
Caden’s eyes opened wide. “Oh wow!” The thought of dictatorship in his Dad’s home country made him think of current events and the recent elections in the U.S. “Were candidates nicer back then or did they also complain with each other?” Caden asked. “I think politicians have always been passionate and when we’re young we just don’t notice it as much. Now we get more information through the constant news and social media so you hear everyone’s different opinions.” Dad said in a reassuring voice.
Caden remained intrigued. You could see he was thinking about how to frame his next question. “Do you think there could ever be a dictatorship in America?” Dad was tempted to provide a quick response based on the merits of how the political system was built in the United States. Instead he returned to the original question. “I think that is why elections have always been important. They were important when I was young just like they are today.” Dad continued, “When voting for someone you look at their character first and foremost. Their political ideology will always follow close to their character. If they show themselves to be honest and kind then it is easier to trust their leadership.” Caden quickly replied, “you trust they won’t hold on to power.” Dad confirmed Caden’s thoughts with a nodding of his head and a closing statement “That’s right son. These are great questions to have and think through. They will prepare you for when you get to vote.”
A final kiss was stamped on Caden’s forehead with the ceremonial last words for the day. “Good night son. Amo-te muito!” Caden replied, “Amo-te muito Dad.”