Riding in the car this morning after the presidential debate, Charlotte asked me why I was listening to so much news. I started to explain about the election in very general terms, telling her that two people were trying to earn votes to become our leader in the U.S. I didn’t mention Trump, Clinton, any specifics, or any opinions. This is the conversation that ensued:
Mom: “So on a special day in a few weeks, everyone will have a chance to go vote for who they want to be our leader. It will be a very important day, and a very important chance to vote for what we want.”
Charlotte: “Oh. Just like how we have a chance to vote on books at school, to see which one everyone wants to read.”
M: “Yes! Same idea.”
C: “So then after everyone votes, they will call her and tell her she won, right?”
She wasn’t talking about Hillary; she doesn’t know Hillary’s name, let alone the fact that one male and one female are running for office! We don’t have the TV on at home [very often], we don’t talk about politics when the kids are awake [very much], and I hadn’t mentioned Hillary or Trump’s name in this car conversation.
But Charlotte said SHE. “They will call her and tell HER that SHE won”.
My daughter lives in a world where she expects that women will lead! That women will win! That it’s completely obvious and simply normal that a woman would have a very important job. Of course, this is her three-year-old world, where she hasn’t yet experienced any gender differences. But I took a pause in the conversation right there to marvel to myself how lucky she is–she’s growing up in a world that will empower her, and one in which she’ll someday ask me “Wait, when I was three, you voted for the FIRST woman president? Why weren’t women leading before that?”
The incredulity that I know will accompany this question–whether she asks it in two years, or twelve years–will just be proof of how far we’ve come. The time when women didn’t lead, or couldn’t lead, will be such a distant memory that it will be hard for her to believe. I can teach my daughter all I want that women are powerful, intelligent, and successful…and I do. But it’s time she starts seeing women doing, being, and leading so that it continues to just be normal and expected for her as she grows up in this world.