One’s right to vote – a privilege, an honor, a civic duty, a chance to be a part of history, an opportunity to make your voice heard, and the list goes on describing what it is to vote.
With a historic election just around the corner I thought it would be a great family activity to do some “voting” in our house & seize an opportunity to have a fun & teachable moment for my kids, particularly Ava. I thought how fun it would be to have a vote for dinner! I wanted to mimic real life voting giving her a number of options, and of course a blank space since there are always write-in options when voting as an adult. THIS OF COURSE WAS MISTAKE #1 – and ultimately the downfall of this activity. Read on for more.
At this point she was a bit distracted already, but I was committed to this FUN & TEACHABLE moment…MISTAKE #2. I did my best to explain the process of voting. I said things like:
*Just because you vote for your choice doesn’t mean it will be what’s for dinner.
*Dinner will be decided based on how many votes there are. Your choice has to have more votes than the others to win.
*You don’t get to see other people’s votes – like Mommy’s and Vincent’s.
*You can only make one choice – you can’t pick one for dinner and then one for after dinner, dessert, etc.
….again, she was a bit distracted, so not sure how much stuck. Next time I would remove distractions i.e., TV in background, shorten my discussion time, etc…
Back to our MISTAKE #1 – the Write In Space.
I told her, this is where you can make your own choice if what you want is not listed above, HOWEVER, in order for this choice to win other people will have to vote for it too, and have more votes than the other choices. So, clearly understanding that, she decided to vote with a write in….for CAKE. Yes, her vote was cake for dinner, a perfectly normal dinner desire for a 5 year old. She cast her vote with a smile on her face and put it into our ballot box (glamorously made from an old shoe box).
*Please note her first choice until realizing she could write in cake...this matters later ;)
At this point I have a feeling it’s going to go downhill. First off, I don’t have a cake to even provide for dinner – so there’s that. I give Vincent a voting ballot…I listed his choices and he chose chicken nuggets, which I also voted for. This dinner election you had to be at least 1 year old, so Decklan was ineligible to vote :)
I told Ava we were ready to tally the votes and see what won for dinner….drumroll…& the winner is: chicken nuggets! ---> Now I have a screaming, tantrum throwing, 5 year old who doesn’t get cake for dinner.
“I’m never voting again!!” “You only want Vincent to win!” “I don’t like chicken nuggets!” [um, yes you do, see scratched out first choice on ballot]…and it goes on. This went on for 10 minutes while I was now preparing chicken nuggets, peas, and blueberries for dinner. All I could think was, “this is awful, she now hates voting, thinks I rigged it for Vincent”, all while she is still fussing at me.
I just wanted a fun and teachable moment, disguised as a dinner vote, to excite her about voting and what she’ll be privileged to do in her future! Leading me to MISTAKE #3…. If you so choose to engage in an activity like this, make sure the first time to have your child’s choice win. While it may not be realistic for when they vote as an adult, I realize now that it would have been beneficial for my 5 year old’s first “experience” with voting to cast a WINNING vote. I should have found a way to have cake…
I’m planning to repeat this voting activity & correct my mistakes so that hopefully Ava can have a positive voting experience. First go round was a #mommyfail, but as the saying goes – “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and drink wine”. That’s how it goes, right?
We will not be having write ins for our next vote and I think there will be a strong dinner candidate with a 97% approval rating…I’m thinking “breakfast for dinner”, translation for my kids = pancakes! So Ava will kind of get cake for dinner. I hope this will restore her faith in voting and the American way!
I encourage you to do the same for your children and I hope this post helps you have a successful kid friendly voting activity while learning from my mistakes!
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