Over the years, my son has wanted to be everything from a garbage man to a fighter pilot.
This week, he floored us when he announced he wanted to be ... a politician! We were devastated. As much as I hated the idea of him flying fighter planes through enemy territory, I would rather that over him being a politician!
I tried to explain that politics is a second choice career. You have to get your education, build a career, retire and then become a politician. Go out in to the real world and get some life experience. Be successful at something. Then you can put your name on the ballot.
I should've seen this coming. I remember when he was about two years old. He would take all the cushions off the couch and pile them up on top of one another to make a podium. He would climb to the top of the pile and give passionate speeches. He would break in to a sweat theatrically using hand gestures to make his points. I thought he was going to be a great lawyer and was practicing his closing arguments as he brought criminals to justice. A politician needs charisma to deliver speeches that inspire people and his charismatic charm was evident since he was a toddler.
He has ideals of how he is going to change the world in ways that no one before him ever could. I told him he has to be reasonable. You can't change the world overnight. You have to be realistic. You have to listen to people and understand the problems.
I thought back to when he was in grade 4. He was small for his age and never a big eater. Every day at school he ordered the same thing for lunch: A hamburger and chocolate milk.
Halfway through the year, he asked if he could order two hamburgers and two chocolate milk, I asked why, he said he was hungry. My mother's intuition kicked in and I began to wonder if he was being bullied or if somebody was taking his lunch money. So I sat him down one night and told him I knew something was up. I demanded to know who was stealing his money or his lunch. After a short period of denial he confessed. He wasn't being bullied. He told me the boy who sat next to him often came with no lunch or money because his mother would forget. My son took it upon himself to quietly solve the problem by ordering two lunches every day and sharing it with his schoolmate. I asked him if the teacher knew about it. He said he didn't want the teacher to know. I explained that adults needed to get involved in a situation like this for reasons that he could not understand. He told me that's why he didn't tell me because he knew I would make a big deal out of it. I try to explain again that we have a duty to alert authorities at school to look out for the welfare of this child. He said, "Mom, he was hungry and I fed him. The problem is solved, now leave it alone. No one needs to know." Looking back I realize how reasonable and realistic he was. He knew how to listen and understand people's problems and he did change this boy’s world overnight without fanfare or accolades.
A politician has to have integrity. He has to be able to stand up for what he believes in. Even when it may not be popular with those around him. I knew as soon as I wrote that it was a moot point because I know my son has integrity. When he was in grade 5 he got detention one day. I was surprised because he is a good student who never spoke back. He was very respectful. I asked him what happened and he told me there was a hearing-impaired student in his class. She was trying to change the batteries in her hearing aid while the teacher was talking and it was interrupting the class. The teacher told her to stop making noise and to go outside the classroom to fix her batteries. Flustered and embarrassed the student began to cry and the faster she tried to fix the problem the more flustered she became. My son got up, walked across the classroom took the hearing aid and began to help her put the batteries in. The teacher yelled at him to sit back down and mind his own business. He said "She needs help." The teacher told him again to sit down. He continued to help her take the batteries out of her hearing aid and replace them with new ones. Then he sat down. The teacher gave him detention for not listening to her. When he told me the story, I didn't believe him. I phoned the teacher and asked her, she gave me the exact same story. I told her, don't ever give my son detention again. He had no problem standing up for something he believed in, even if it meant getting detention.
I told him politicians need fiscal experience and be honest. But I knew he had no trouble there either. In kindergarten, my husband and I got called in by his teacher. She told us he had been taking money from his classmates. We were both shocked. She called him into the classroom and we asked him to explain what was going on. He had been asking for months to go to Disney World. We told him that it was expensive and we couldn't afford it that year because we just had a baby, his sister. So he decided to raise the money on his own. He created coupons on loose leaf paper and wrote "10 cents" on each one. He cut them out and talked this classmates into buying the coupons. He was making a tidy profit by the time the teacher found out. She demanded he give the money back, but he refused, telling her this is "His new business" his "Coupon factory." So she took the money and the coupons and called us in. She asked him "Do you know what you did wrong?" He said "I didn't do anything wrong. I created my own business." She was frustrated and she looked toward us or support. She said, "He's defiant he refuses to admit what he did was wrong." We left the classroom and went out and sat in our car, not knowing what to say to each other. My husband looked at me and said "What do we do?" I said "Bring him to university, he's obviously ready for business school!"
We should have known then that we were raising a politician. Now that I think back over his life. I'm not surprised that he wants to go into politics. He's a born statesman with an innate sense of integrity, honesty and charisma.
He plans on running in the next election. He tells me, "Don't worry, Mom, I'm well-informed when it comes to politics." I told him, "Then you'll definitely be elected because voters don't understand it at all!"