Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Election Day

They were unexpected.
In fact, they surprised me.
And caused me no end of embarrassment.

See, the thing is, I was annoyed. Which is not unusual. I am often, if not always, ticked off at him. He is so aloof. Condescending. And always late.

“Clint. Supper.”
“C l i n t… supper!
No answer.
“Whaaa? Yeah yeah…”
We start eating without him. He is possessed by the game on his computer and I can’t break its spell. (I know. I know. I’m not doing his wife any favors.)

He saunters to the kitchen eventually, just as we’re discussing the plan for the evening.
“We’ll have to leave at 7, so that Clint and I can vote.”

Earlier in the day it occurred to me that Clint would be eligible to vote in this election. And I would get to share in that experience with him.
When your kids are babies every “first” is cause for celebration. First word. First step. First pea up the nose. First day at school. First phone call from the principal telling you your son has been involved in a police incident…
Generally speaking, I love firsts.

But now, I’m losing patience and my anger is escalating.
“After that, we’ll pick up Jon. Then – I’m on empty, so we’ll have to stop at the Co-op for gas. Then I’ll take drop you guys off at youth. Drew and I will …”
“Stop talking” he says.
“Why?” I ask.
“No one’s listening.”

I fully understand why some animals eat their young.
He’d be bitter and grisly though.

At 7 I say, “Let’s go.”
Max and Drew get in the truck. And then we wait.
And wait.
He eventually makes his way to the truck.
“Do you have your ID?”
“No. You had it last.”
He has lost his wallet. No Driver’s Licence. No Birth Certificate. No bank card. No S.I.N. No library card.
Everyday after school last week was spent getting replacement cards.
And I’m supposed to have them?
Eventually the aforesaid documents are recovered and we proceed to the local elementary school.
“Why are we leaving so early?” he demands from the backseat.
I didn’t trust myself to answer.
“Because after you vote, we have to pick up Jon, then get gas then go to youth” Max explains with all the patience in the world.
“WHAT? Aren’t we going back home?”

I park the truck and exit the vehicle. Drew scoots up beside me and slipps his hand into mine.
“You can’t go in there” his older brothers say.
“Yes I can. I went with mom the last time she voted” he replies with confidence.

We enter the gym and I’m directed to Polling Station # 71 while Clint, who is unregistered, is sent to a table at the back.

I hand in my yellow card, am given two ballots and invited to the private area at the end of the table. Drew presses in close to me to watch. And question. And comment.

When I’m done, I return the ballots to the returning officer who rips off the top and gives them back to me so I can stuff them through the slot in the box.

I step away from the table just as Clint approaches.
He hands his info to the lady who has just handled my transaction.
She checks his paperwork and comments, “Oh. This is your first election. Good for you. Glad you came.” She looks up from her desk and smiles directly at him with a type of motherly gentleness that I seem incapable of.

My eyes fill with tears.

This is my boy. Voting at his first election. I watch from the middle of the gym, not sure what to do with my emotions.
“Are you crying?” Drew asks with huge eyes, full of concern.
Somehow his gentleness makes it worse.
“Nah. Allergies.” I say bravely.
He puts his hand in mine and squeezes. “Is your little boy growing up?”
“Not crying. Just poked myself.”
He lets go of my hand and puts his arm around me. “It’s Okay mom. He’s just maturing. It'll be alright….”
I turn to find a more private corner, but am suddenly very aware of all the people milling around that tiny little gym. Must’ve been at least 50 people in there. Of course they weren’t all looking at me, but yeesh. Who falls apart in a polling station?

Clint finishes up and we leave.
“Mom was crying” Drew informs his big brother who is oblivious.
He looks at me, unimpressed. “Now what?”
“You’re growing up” Drew says.

Hours later, when I pick the boys up from youth, the car radio is on with election results being discussed.
“Who won?” Clint asks.
“Looks like the Liberals.”
“But what about the rest of Canada?”
“What about the rest of Canada?”
He’s angry that I’m so dense. “What did they vote?”
“They didn’t vote.”
“What? Why not? BC votes for all of Canada?”
“Noooo. Our election was for BC only?”
“Why, what?”
“What did we just vote for?”
“For a premier.”
“So what’s the rest of Canada going to do?”
“Each province has their own election. And then every four years or so we have a federal election.”
“So what was the big deal about today? Is it like a little annual thing?”

This is what our education dollar is buying us.

Not sure if I should laugh or cry.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Danged allergies. I get them too around major events. Pollen, or something, I guess.