For some reason, here in my hippie town, standing in front of the Farmer’s Market, there was a Tea Party activist wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a lei. “Join the tea party!” he said.
“That man said ‘party!'” Sophie echoed. She thinks parties are exciting.
“That’s right,” he said, “join the Tea Party and then we can have a party!” He was delighted with Sophie’s interest. I tried to walk by, into the farmer’s market, but he wanted to prolong the conversation: “How are you today?”
“How am I? I am deeply opposed to the tea party,” I told him, and walked by, thinking that was that. But Sophie heard my tone.
When we finished shopping and walked back out, the man was packing up his stuff. “Hey, where’s the man with the flower necklace?” Sophie said, loud enough for him to hear.
“He’s going home, now, honey, but that’s okay, that’s good, really, because I think that’s a mean man. He wants people to be mean to each other.”
“He thinks all government is bad. Some people think that way, but they’re wrong. Government helps people. That man just doesn’t want to share.”
Sophie, like every 2-year-old, knows all about sharing. She knows much more than most vocal conservative activists in America today.
“We saw a bad man!” Sophie is excited now. “I’m going to tell Sara and Maci and Nevin that we saw a bad man!” Bad men are the stars of many of her stories. Bad men, dinosaurs, or bears: one of the three. Every good fantasy needs a villain. Sophie was talking quite loudly, while we walked by the Tea Party activist. “That’s a bad man!”
“Well, just because his ideas are very bad, doesn’t make him a bad man.”
“That’s a bad man!”
“Yes, his ideas are bad, but he might not be so bad himself.” It was one of those tape-loop conversations that Sophie and I often have. And it was within earshot of the Tea Partier, just trying to pack up his pamphlets. The man scowled hard at us. What else could he do?
This is either a great triumph (having a two-year-old makes it possible to insult Tea Partiers to their face, without repercussion!) or a sad travesty (am I really indoctrinating Sophie in my political view this early?) or maybe both.
When I told my father, he was only mildly amused. “Of course you’re indoctrinating her,” he said. “It’s inevitable. And it won’t stick.” Oddly, that makes me feel pretty good.