The scene: My driveway, late afternoon. I was loading the kids up to go to JP's doctor's appointment and was in the middle of buckling XC into his car seat. A shiny blue RAV4 pulled alongside the curb, passenger window rolled down. I glanced up to see an older woman (late 60's, early 70's) leaning towards me. I stopped what I was doing, expecting her to ask for directions (it happens a lot) and instead got insulted.
"You...you have little children. I just...I just don't understand...it's irresponsible..."
I've made my share of bad parenting choices, and some were probably borderline irresponsible, but if you're going to tell me I'm a shit parent, start with the specifics and then move on to the gross generalizations. Fair enough?
She continued, "...irresponsible! You're voting for...! You're a fool."
Before I had time to even process what just happened, she drove away.
By the time she'd reached my neighbor's driveway everything had clicked. So I, called out, "And you're rude!"
Ha! I sure told that hag!
I *think* what I did was have a Obama sign in my yard.
I suppose she could have been pissed about the support public education sign... but, let's face it, I don't think even her level of crazy could reasonably call me an irresponsible parent for supporting public education.
Obama it is!
It takes a lot of effort to muster that level of outrage and hatefulness towards a total stranger. I see yard signs and bumper stickers I don't agree with all the time; I'm not going to yell at someone or flip them off just because I disagree with their opinion. I'm certainly not going to pull my car over and give them the what-for because they're so obviously wrong and I'm so obviously right.
Confession: I will mentally flip the bird, honk my horn, or scream that someone is an asshole but I'm not actually going to do it. I have my opinion, they have theirs, we're different. Let's agree to disagree and be civil, shall we?
Inside the car JP and SG were bewildered. And angry. "What did she say?" "She called you a "fool" mom! You're not a fool!" "What happened? Why was she upset? What did you do?"
So I told them my theory (she doesn't agree with our support of Obama) and that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we have to vote for who we believe will do the best job.
That wasn't good enough for them. A fifteen second exchange twisted their skivvies into all sorts of knots and had them positively ranting. They called her a bunch of different names, wanted to find out where she lived so we could yell at her... their outrage went on for about five minutes. Instead of joining in like I wanted, I had to be an Adult and use the situation as an opportunity to teach them a Life Lesson.
(Have I ever mentioned that being an adult blows?)
So I told them: Believing differently does not give you the right to be hateful or rude and our energies are best spent elsewhere. I tried to explain to them that if people like that woman channeled their anger into something good, the world would be a much nicer place. I told them we're all entitled to our own political opinions and that we have to choose the person who represents our beliefs. I told them not to waste their energy on her, to not let someone that nasty have that much power over them, she said her peace and it was time to let it go. We were moving on.
Hey, look, a cow!
But inside? Inside I was seething. I was pissed that she behaved that way in front of my kids. She scared them. Some stranger upset my kids and that's not okay. I was confronted in a cowardly way over a YARD SIGN and never given the opportunity to respond. I
I imagined all the ways I could get back at her... more Obama signs. Signs calling Mittens out on behaving like a confused teenager. Signs calling Ryan a liar. A sign that said, BITE ME AND KEEP DRIVING GOP BASTARDS.
That would be setting a poor example and make me a hypocrite.
I did the thing that would most piss someone like her off: I made a donation to the Obama campaign.
I donated $5 for her. Then I thought about my parents' neighbors- the racist ones who refer to the president by a term I find so repugnant I'm won't even type it. I donated $5 each in honor of them.
Also, because Barack Obama is MY PRESIDENT, I donated another $5.
And that's what I'm going to keep doing. For every flip of the bird, insult hurled, and scolding I receive over my support of Obama, I'm donating $5 to the campaign. It's the most civil way I can think of to tell the trolls to shut up. I'm putting my money where my mouth is. Yes we can. We did it once. We'll do it again.
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