I Took My Kids To A Protest March, And I’d Do It Again

Of course, the Men of Twitter had something to say about it.

When I posted a photo of my two boys holding their carefully hand-written signs at the Women’s March on London last month, a couple of them were right on the case.

‘The parents should take that kids [sic] advice and stop doing this to the children’, one of them said, apostrophes all askew.

Someone else replied that we were exploiting them to make a political point.

And the thing is, it’s easy to dismiss the Men of Twitter, who will froth in all season, whether you toil or spin. But the idea underneath those tweets is a common one: this notion that children, being innocent, should therefore be apolitical.

I think it’s rubbish.

Children can’t escape politics any more than they can stop breathing air. If they’re born without any one of the kinds of privilege we use as calamity-Teflon, they’re in the thick of it whether we like it or not.

Children whose families are on benefits. Children in insecure housing. Children using food banks. Children meeting racial prejudice. They can’t stay serenely above the fray when the fray built everything they can see.

If you think you’re able to opt out of politics, all you’re saying is that the hardships and prejudices of the day don’t affect you, and you’re not willing to empathise with those who aren’t so lucky.

And what do I want for my three? What any parent wants – for my children to be better than myself. To pass on our better attitudes and passions, like say my romantic ride-or-die attachment to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and to spare them my failings, like say my persistent inability to get the words right in Get Lucky. They don’t know it yet, but they have advantages coming out of their ears. If they can’t reach out with compassion and fire to those without their power then I haven’t taught them to use it properly.

If you think you’re able to opt out of politics, all you’re saying is that the hardships and prejudices of the day don’t affect you, and you’re not willing to empathise with those who aren’t so lucky.

I know each of them is their own person, with their own stuff to do, but still: when I tell them things can be better – and they believe it, and carry that around inside of them – it feels a little like making a new world.

So when it comes to Trump, that narcissistic would-be autocrat swinging daily between embarrassment and atrocity, then yes, I want them to have an opinion. If they didn’t hurt at the thought of incarcerated children then we’re doing something wrong. It did hurt. We talked about it carefully, age-appropriately, but honestly. We talked about how important it is to act when people are hurting. They wrote their own signs, and carried them all day. The atmosphere was wonderful: percussion instruments, singing, smiling at strangers. There were people giving out free children’s picture books, and plenty of room for little legs to keep up. We ate whole five-packs of doughnuts and marched with friends. It was safe, and happy, and felt meaningful.

When I tell them things can be better – and they believe it, and carry that around inside of them – it feels a little like making a new world.

I think this era will be judged mercilessly by historians to come. It’s important to me that, when they look back, my kids can remember us trying hard to do something about it.

It shouldn’t end with a protest, but it can begin with one.

If people are suffering, we have work to do. My children have work to do. It’ll be their brave new world, after all.

4 thoughts on “I Took My Kids To A Protest March, And I’d Do It Again

  1. Nice to see you back. And totally agree with getting kids involved in the world around them. Due to a variety of factors screen time is very restricted in my house, but one thing we watch regularly is Newsround. Yes the news is not pleasant, yes I would rather shield my kids from all the nastiness in the world but this is their world too and the I think the best we can do is discuss the unpleasantness in the world with them so that they have the tools to deal with it and fight it as they grow.

  2. Ooooof! Back with a RoAAAAAAR!!
    Powerful, articulate, timely, moving, and all TRUE!
    What else are you thinking Rach? I can’t wait to read…..XxxX

  3. Ooooooof! Back with a RoAAAAAAR!!
    Powerful, articulate, timely, moving, and all TRUE!!
    What else are you thinking Rachel? I can’t wait to read…..XxX

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