It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Election Day, the Sign Mans, and my Dessert

It’s Election Day here in Canada, and for the first time in years, I went to cast my ballot without my little parade of toddlers. Generally I hit the polling station in the morning, in part to avoid any congestion that may occur in the busier after-work hours, but mostly because I like the idea of taking the tots along, exposing them to this aspect of being a grown-up. It’s the teacher in me, don’t you know.

Today I didn’t. Today I went after work hours, so that I could be chauffeured to and from – taking the car, when the polling station is six blocks from my home! I’m mortified. What kind of a fat-ass wuss am I morphing into?? I’m also incapable of walking six blocks, so I can swallow my moral outrage at using a car for a six-block outing. It’s embarrassing, true; it’s also merely necessary.

A canvasser for one of the parties came to the door earlier today, “getting the vote out”. I assured her of my intention to go to the polls this evening, and she gave me a little bookmark with the candidate’s picture and the address of our polling station. Just so’s I’d know who to vote for and how to get there. Six blocks from my home.

The tots were interested.

“Dat’s the man on the signs on the lawns!” Darcy exclaimed. “Why did the lady give you the sign man’s picture?”

I explained that today all the grown-ups would be deciding who got to be the boss of the country. This was one of the men who wanted to help. He didn’t want to be the boss, but he wanted to be one of the boss’s helpers. I’m talking to three-year-olds: it pays to keep it simple.

“Don’t we have a boss already?” George asks. It would be clever George who thinks of this.

“Well, yes, we do.” (I will suffer no snide remarks about Mr. Martin’s efficacy or lack thereof in the position; fact is, at least technically, he is the boss.) “We do, but now it’s time for someone else to get a chance. Even the boss of the country has to take turns.”

This they understand, and it’s on to more pressing matters, like can Zach eat the Smartie that rolled under the potty and looks just the teeniest bit damp. They took a vote, and Zach ate the Smartie.

A few years back, less experienced and more eager to enrich, I attempted a more detailed explanation.

“Say that your mummy said you could have either a brownie or some ice cream for dessert, but you all had to have the same thing.” I explained to little Kaleb, then four years old. “So everyone in the family would get to say what they wanted. That’s voting. Each person would be voting for the dessert they want. Whichever dessert had more people wanting it, that’s what everyone would eat.”

He seemed to grasp this, and then I very skilfully made the connection between voting for something like dessert and voting for leadership of the country. We all troop into the polling station, I take my ballot, mark it, drop it in the box, then back out into the sunshine we go. (Because generally we are sensible in this country and do NOT hold elections in the WINTER!)

“Did we voted?” Kaleb asks.

“Yes, we did.”

He scrutinizes my face carefully, puzzlement all over his. “So, when do we get the dessert?”

So this evening I went and cast my ballot. In another hour I’ll turn on the television and start watching the returns. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get the dessert I wanted.

January 23, 2006 - Posted by | Canada, commemoration, George, the things they say!, Zach


  1. I hope you get the dessert you want too. 😉

    Have to tell you that I love your use of graphics in your posts. Your writing stands alone, and the pictures serve as the icing on the cake.

    Hey, I love you – what can I say?

    Comment by Andie D. | January 23, 2006 | Reply

  2. Sounds interesting to me too, even though I am no longer a kid.

    Comment by Queen Bee | January 23, 2006 | Reply

  3. Good luck. I always stay up way too late to watch the results come in, so I hope you’re not too tired tomorrow (today).

    I’ve always taken the kids long to vote with me & Mstr A is quite comfortable with the idea that we all chose who should make the laws (if a bit hazy on what those laws are about). We don’t do democracy in the house though – he gets the desert I tell him he can (or more often can’t) have, so you’re example wouldn’t have made much sense to him either:-)

    Comment by Mrs.Aginoth | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  4. I know you generally steer clear of partisan politics here but I have just one comment.

    If this is the dessert, than I think the ice cream is sour, and the fruit is rancid.

    It is a good thing that so few really like it that they might allow us to send it back.

    Comment by Bill | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  5. I’m guessing you went to bed without your dessert?

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  6. So how are you feeling, generally, about the results? I thought of all my Canadian bloggie friends today as I read the news, and I’m curious as to what each person is thinking.

    Comment by misfit | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  7. Andie: No dessert for me. Given that the polls didn’t close till 9:30, the returns probably didn’t finish till after midnight. Too late for me! (And with my back as it is, no dessert of any other flavour, either…)

    QueenBee: I love election night. Usually I love watching the results come in, seeing first one, then another party take the lead, till the final winner is declared. But last night, I’m afraid I didn’t follow my plan, and went to bed shortly after the polls closed here.

    MrsA: As you see, even though I enjoy watching, this year I wimped out. Work is hard enough with the back stuff – I’m not about to tackle it exhausted. Oh, well.

    Bill: You feel much more strongly about it than I do; I would feel more strongly had they won a majority – but still not to the point of “rancid” and “sour”.

    Crayonz: Indeed. Between the lateness of the hour and the bad back, I just lost out all round…

    Misfit: Even though I’m generally a left-of-centre woman (less than I used to be, but still not right), I’m reasonably pleased. The Liberals have had their kick at the leadership can for something like fifteen years now: it’s time things got a bit of a shake-up. One party stays in power that long, they get stale, they get arrogant. (They get prone to scandals as a result, as we’ve seen.)

    So it was time for a new set of faces on The Hill, and the Conservatives are the next likely candidates – plus they ran an excellent campaign. (Not, I note with a grin, that I voted for them.) There isn’t a whole lot about their platform and policies I like – except their stand on childcare! – but still, it’s time for a change. It will be good for us.

    I’m relieved, however, that it’s a minority government. Because they don’t have a solid majority, they will be kept accountable to the other points of view, which will likely prevent any excesses. A minority government is a difficult place to govern from, though, and I doubt they’ll get a second term.

    Says me, political pundit what I’m not!

    Comment by Mary P. | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  8. p.s. to Andie: How could I have not responded to the rest of that lovely comment? I am shocked at myself! Thank you for the compliment to my writing; that’s truly appreciated.

    The pictures I do to amuse myself, so I’m glad someone else is appreciating them, too, instead of being annoyed by the visual clutter.

    Comment by Mary P. | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  9. You know, I bet if the candidates actually handed out brownies or ice cream, they’d do much better. I personally would vote for the guy with the best dessert!

    Comment by AverageMom | January 24, 2006 | Reply

  10. Averagemom: Ha! That would change the election dynamic – and probably for the better…

    Comment by Mary P. | January 25, 2006 | Reply

  11. They used to hand out booze. Tell me why they made that illegal? The one thing that used to draw people out to vote was the free booze. Did you know that less than 65% of the people vote in most elections? I say Bring back the free booze ! 🙂

    Comment by Bill | January 26, 2006 | Reply

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