Anyone with kids who has ever accidentally given one of them a teaspoon more ice cream than the other knows that children are born with an innate sense of equality and fairness- no one gets a teaspoon more ice cream- full stop. They are not born viewing the world through the lens of gender, sexual orientation, religion, skin color, occupation, income or any other of the myriad of things that have been used throughout time to deny equality and justify dickish behaviour. They are born humans. Humans who believe that everyone has the right to equal servings of ice cream.
I was excited the night of the US election to sit with my eldest daughter and watch as the first ever female President was about to be elected. It was a moment, I thought, that would cement for her what she has always believed in her six years of life to be true- she can be anything. This is a historic moment- I would tell her- it’s still a long road but this is a moment to build on- a moment to move us forward- the moment that we as women get to step up to the ice cream counter and say-
I’ll have what he’s been having for 10,000 years. No- I don’t have a membership card for your ultra exclusive penis only ice cream store but you are going to serve me anyway. And don’t short me a teaspoon because I’ll know. Also, I’ll have the waffle cone AND I’m not paying an extra $1.50 for it. Consider it a credit towards the billions you owe me for that whole ‘no equal pay for equal work’ thing. Is that glass on the floor? I think your ceiling just broke. You should really clean it up.
We didn’t get that moment.
I put my daughter to bed long before the final results were in when it became clear that this was going to be a long night. Maybe one that was going to make many of us throw up a little in our mouths. Actually not a little- a lot.
The next morning when she asked what happened, I didn’t have an answer.
Six year old: What? Trump won?
Six year old: He’s the President there? Like that Trudeau here?
Me: Yes. But not like Justin Trudeau.
Six year old: But Donald Trump doesn’t like people, right?
Six year old: He just likes money?
Six year old: Did he just pretend to be nice and not a bully and then steal Hilary Clinton’s ideas so people would vote for him?
Six year old: He’s not nice. I don’t understand.
Me: Nobody does.
As I’ve previously written about-
the election results hit me hard. The idea that a bigly pussy grabber, his American Psycho children and the alt-right racist Suicide Squad he surrounds himself with could be rewarded with so much power for generally being horrible was (and still is) gut wrenching. Eventually I realized that the answer was not defeat. The answer was determination. As yesterday proved, millions of people around the world feel the same.
The first time I read about the Women’s March on Washington, I got chills. My eyes filled with tears and my heart started a slow turn from glowering to glowing. I almost bought a plane ticket to DC. When I found out there was a sister march being planned in Vancouver, I couldn’t wait to attend with my girls.
As they say about best laid plans…
Another thing that every parent knows about kids is that whenever you try to take them somewhere, you can’t be certain what you are going to get. It’s the equivalent of being forced to bring overally emotional mini drunks on an outing- they can turn from deliriously happy dancing on a table top to crying in a bathroom stall and refusing to leave within five seconds without explanation. And then they want a hot dog.
We began the morning of the Women’s March making our “Feminist” pennants but I could tell things were going sideways when the Threenager (almost four year old) and six year old began to debate whether rainbows or shades of pink were more appropriate choices to colour their respective flags. Far from a celebration of unity, it was clear we were heading toward a scene that would be captioned “There Will be Blood” or at least “There Will be Fake Tears”.
By the time we arrived, they were cold, complaining they couldn’t see anything, complaining that they couldn’t hear anything, complaining that our family does not have a dog, asking why no one was marching on a march and “doesn’t marching mean like walking” and yelling things at each other like “I don’t want to see your eyeballs right now” and “Mom- she’s breathing at me AGAIN”. We had ventured far from the territory of sisterhood and solidarity and into our family’s version of a Trump Twitter rant.
After a brief stop at the main rally point, I thought, “Well, at least they’ve seen the crowd, we’ve talked about why we are here, maybe they kind of understand” and conceded, “Okay, guys, let’s go for hot chocolate”.
Hot chocolate was, not surprisingly, a bridge to securing sibling peace which allowed us to enjoy a chat about the dogs we’d seen and more about why we were there. By the time we heard the drums leading the march coming around the corner, my crazy little drunks were ready to get back to the party and jumped out of their seats to join in.
And we marched.
My girls walked with thousands and thousands in Vancouver and in doing so, they stood shoulder to shoulder with millions of more humans around the globe. The warring sisters of an hour before clasped hands and became warrior sisters following an amazingly diverse crowd of women, men, kids, babies and dogs through the streets. There were some fabulous tuques, fantastic signs, inspiring drums and an overwhelming sense of unity. It was not the moment I thought we would share on November 8 but they were witnessing something historic nonetheless. More importantly, they were in it. They were feeling it all around them. They are probably too young to truly appreciate it or even remember it. I will never forget it.
So why do I march? I march because we are ALL people. And I march because despite everything I don’t know about parenting, the one thing I know with absolute certainty is that I can never let my children fail to fight for that fundamental principle they were born with- we all deserve equal fucking ice cream.