Winning with grace, losing with dignity: The kids can show us how

This presidential election for 2016 was a big one for the grown-up world and I feel there is much we can learn from it.  Mainly, teaching the future leaders of our great nation what a fair fight looks like, and what happens to good people when they lie.

The election held recently in my daycare got a bit heated.  The two candidates my young voters had to choose from was the top shelf oatmeal from the Coop, or the tried and true pancakes that have been in the supermarket for years.

I feared that I wouldn’t know how the organic brand I bought was going to turn out.  I pretty much knew what to expect from the pancake mix.  It was the same recipe every time.  And don’t get me wrong.  I loved those pancakes.  But I was ready for something different.

“So, who wants oatmeal?  Raise your hand!”  I said to my group of five.

Voter #1;  Three-year-old, RoRo, sprung up from the floor and shouted with glee, “I LOVE oatmeal!” And just like the leader she was, she added, “I love you for making it for me!”

Voter #2;  In unison with Ro-Ro, one-year-old Kori, threw her arms in the air happy to support the oatmeal cause.  She gave her best performance of one of her favorite games, ‘So. Big!’

Voter #3;  Wyett, at 18 months of age, toddled over to his chair.  I could see, he just wanted the election to move on.  I’m guessing he may have wanted scrambled eggs, but there just wasn’t enough in the fridge for me to bother offering it as a real option.

Voter #4;  Patrick, the baby just looked.  He was too young to understand the important issues involved . . . like maple syrup or brown sugar.

Voter #5;  At the age of two, Madeline was skilled enough to understand taking turns was part of play.   She looked around her and I could see she was privately tallying the votes.   I’m guessing she hoped there was still a chance for pancakes.   After all, the voting had just started.

Ro-Ro started chanting “Oatmeal. Oatmeal.”  Kori banged her hands on the tray of her highchair in rhythm.  The rally for a hot cereal was gaining popularity.

“Well, we have another choice we need to consider,” I reminded the group.  I wasn’t so sure that little Kori wouldn’t be swayed.

“Who wants pancakes?” I asked.

Madeline’s hand sprung up and she voiced her ballot with a playful, “MEEEE!!”

“Oatmeal! Oatmeal!” Her contender shouted.   The breakfast choices had turned the event into an emotionally driven campaign.

With a pouty lip Madeline looked at her friends and said, “I want pancakes!”  Her eyes started to tear as she demanded a chance to be heard.

“Girls, you need to stop!”  I said to the victors, “Look at Madeline’s face.  You are making her sad.”

The room turned quiet.  I said to Madeline, “It’s okay.  We can have pancakes tomorrow.  I promise.”

And that was when I witnessed how delightful and caring children can be.

RoRo tilted her head, held her palms up high, and reminded her friend, “it’s okay Mandeline.  We can have pancakes tomorrow!”  And she clapped her hands with joy.

Losing the battle is always hard.  But I knew Madeline loved breakfast.  There were certain things about oatmeal she liked and I tried to remind her of the last time I made this hot cereal for her.  “You asked for more . . .” I inched closer, “and more . . .,” we all felt better when we saw the sliver of her smile.   Needing to have her vote validated, she softly grumbled her choice one last time.  “Pancakes.”

I dished up the bowls and sprinkled a little extra brown sugar on each.  In doing so, I was reminded of when I was a child and had a fondness to oatmeal.  There was something pleasing about its texture.  The warmed milk blended with the sweet grit of the sugar tasted like fresh, uncooked, cookie dough.  Personally, I like both pancakes and oatmeal, as long as the oatmeal isn’t too hot or the pancakes aren’t burnt.  There’s no amount of sugar or syrup that could ever fix that.

With tummies full, the children moved on for some free play time.

I was busy cleaning up the dishes when I heard a banging from the daycare room.  Just as I rounded the corner, I saw RoRo banging the play refrigerator door against their play table.  Her focus was on the bin of plastic food she was forcing against the stuck door.

I watched Madeline’s eyes scan the situation.  She set down the picture book she was reading and ran to her friend’s aid, “here RoRo.  Moob dis.”

“Ohhh, thank you Mandeline!”  RoRo said.

I love that children don’t need a stroke for every good deed they perform.  They like how it feels when they can make others feel better.  They are also the most forgiving of others who may have done them wrong.  Children seem to have the best understanding that people are only human.  They truly want to believe that all people are good.

I try not to hold too many elections for children of this young age.  Once every four days or so is enough for me.  But winning with grace, and losing with dignity are tough lessons that children need to learn.  And yet, sometimes it’s the children, who know how to do it best.

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