“My eye itches,” eight-year-old Camille said one morning as she rolled out of bed.
“Scratch it,” I said without looking at her. It was a cool March morning, and my husband and I were headed out of town for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, where we were “working” the first Presidential straw poll of the 2008 season. Even though it was two years before the election, I’d spent the last few months trying to get people to vote for Mitt Romney. No, not Matt. Mitt. And yes, he’s from Massachusetts. People hadn’t heard of him, so I’d tried my best to persuade them to vote for him instead of any of a number of southern politicians.
“But it hurts,” she protested. I put down a bag of buttons that read “Romney – Yankee Governor with Southern Values,” and looked at her. Her eye was swollen shut.
My stomach sank. Pink eye? I’d planned to take the kids to school, and the babysitter would pick them up afterwards. I didn’t have childcare during the school hours, and I couldn’t send her to school looking like she’d been hit in the eye.
“Well, I guess you’re both coming with us,” I said, as I dropped medicine in her eye.
The next day, my husband and I found ourselves standing in a convention center, handing out tee shirts, pamphlets, and talking to anyone who’d listen about the guy we hoped would be the next President of the United States. “Mitt,” I’d say. “Like a glove.” The kids happily played behind our table, laughing and putting Romney stickers on their faces.
“Want to help me hand these out?” I asked my six-year-old Austin, who dutifully stood at a busy intersection near the main hall and handed out buttons. Because it was the first straw poll of that election cycle, the press corps was out in full force, and soon Newsweek had a camera on him.
“Who are you supporting, young man?” the reporter asked.
“Mitt Romney,” Austin nervously responded.
“Are you skipping school to do this?”
“Yes, he is,” I interrupted, “but Romney believes in education.”
That was when my kids were thrust into the political realm in which our family has lived in for the past seven years.
[Keep reading this article, which is the last of my 2012 coverage for Parents Magazine!]