What My Daughter Doesn’t Know

My daughter didn’t know Trump’s name until the night before the election. She’s only three. I was hoping the big decision would send him off into the sunset with his TV channel and I could hit the mute on him — and that my daughter would eventually learn about him as part of a history lesson. But she asked, and I answered.

“Trumpet?” she said. “Like, in a song?” She started humming “1234” by Feist.

Bullhorn is more like it, I wanted to say. Or bullshit. But I just nodded, thinking of everything I want her to know about him — and people like him — when she gets older. And how grateful I am that she hasn’t (yet) known his brand of close-mindedness in her life. All she knew was I wanted him to lose. And so there, 24 hours before the polls closed, she taunted me.

“Trump wins! Trump wins!” she yelled.

My eyes bugged, and I shook my head emphatically. So she laughed and kept yelling it, jumping up and down. I hadn’t wanted to hear her speak his name, much less shout it in triumph. But that’s life with a little person. I edited my reactions, she ended her victory dance, and I thought I’d never hear the phrase again.

On the morning after the election, my daughter came downstairs before dawn and found me lying on the couch by the TV. I pulled her into my arms.

“I have to tell you something,” I said, my eyes filling with tears. “Hillary Clinton didn’t win.” Saying the words out loud — and to a little girl — made them all that more real.

For a moment I feared she’d break into another victory dance, but she didn’t say anything for a long while. I wondered, as I often had, how much she understood about any of this. But then she pushed up on her elbows, looked me right in the eye, and said, “Are you KIDDING ME?!”

If only.

My daughter has known about Hillary Clinton for months now. That’s a name I don’t mind saying in front of her. And, though she pronounces the first name “Harry,” my daughter knows Clinton is a woman. But I’m not sure she knows Clinton would have been the first woman president. I can’t remember if I’ve ever told her that part of the story. I will someday, of course, but for now I love that my daughter doesn’t know how significant her presidency would have been. My daughter knows anything is truly possible. And, for better or worse, so do I.

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