Where is Captain Underpants when we need him? No, but seriously- How do we talk to our children about the election?

I’m mostly worried about the kids.

They’ve been hearing about the election at school, and asking about it.

Babygirl, a few weeks ago: “Mama, Stevie says Donald Trump is a bad man and a bully and he shouldn’t be president. He’s not president is he?”

It felt easy to reassure her. “Oh honey, no, he isn’t and never will be. This is America, and bullies can’t be presidents.”

I believed that. I really believed that in our great melting pot of a country, there could not possibly be enough misogynist, racist, or otherwise grossly misguided citizens to elect someone like Donald Trump as our president.

And now.

Hubby and I were up all damn night. I had my first panic attack around ten-thirty p.m. and decided to go to bed, to try to sleep through the horror. But I couldn’t get my breathing under control.

Several hours, two glasses of red wine, two shots of Nyquil and a melatonin later, I was still awake, as was Hubby. We tried not to check our phones, then did anyways, and began talking about how on earth we would explain this to our kids.

Not just explain, but shield.

Not just shield, but also raise them safely in a country where ignorant and unprepared bullies reign.

Not just raise them, but also give them self-confidence in a country where it’s apparently okay to denigrate women, minorities, and the disabled.

Good God, how do we do this?

Hubby’s first suggestion was “I sure wish Captain Underpants were here to save the day from President-elect Poopypants!”

But then he said: “I suggest we stress that sometimes we’re disappointed, and what’s important is that we be examples of goodness, always trying to make things better.”

I agree. I also think alot of reassurance is in order.

We’re not the only ones for whom this is the main concern. A wonderful article by Huffington Post blogger Ali Michaels, PhD, offers some solid suggestions.

Meantime, I will do my best to model the behavior I want to see in our leaders, for my children.

When I drove into the train station parking lot, the attendant is a middle-aged woman in a hijab. I drove slowly and waved to her, smiling, sending the message I am with you. We’ll be okay. She smiled wryly back.

On the train, reading the coverage, I couldn’t help but get choked up. An African-american man standing across from me saw my face, nodded in solidarity and smiled reassuringly,  sending the message I am with you, we’ll be okay.

As my colleagues drift into the office we barely speak, sharing grim expressions, sad head shaking, sighs. We are with each other. We’ll be okay.

And this is what I want to be for my kids- an example of goodness and kindness, inclusion and acceptance, tolerance and patience, thoughtfulness and open-mindedness.

We’ll be okay.

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