Mommy, why did that man kiss me?
Even very young children are likely to notice the presidential campaign in Ohio this year. So be prepared: They're going to have questions.
The key to answering them is to keep it simple. Two- or 3-year-olds can't grasp the ideological complexities of the Republican and Democratic platforms. They need to be 4 years old for that. Here are some questions kids may ask and how a parent might answer them:
Are there any presidential candidates under my bed? I'm afraid to go to sleep.
Unless you're an undecided voter, it's doubtful that a presidential candidate would be under your bed.
What are Republicans and Democrats?
They're sort of like the fans of opposing football teams, except less polite. Every four years, Republicans and Democrats hoot and jeer at each other until the voters finally declare one side the winning team. The team then gets to govern the country, quickly demonstrating why people who hoot and jeer should never be put in charge of anything.
Is God a Republican or a Democrat?
God is neither. But God created both Republicans and Democrats because he wanted to ensure that we'd always have an abundant supply of comedy. Without politics, we wouldn't have The Daily Show.
Am I a Republican or a Democrat?
You're neither because you are still a child. Someday, when you grow up, you may develop a political preference and begin waving signs, cheering loudly and talking enthusiastically with everyone you meet about why your candidate is the best. But we will still love you despite all that.
Can I be president someday?
Of course. Absolutely anyone can be president in the United States. But you better get started now. The 2044 campaign is expected to cost $12 trillion. You probably ought to plan an exploratory trip to New Hampshire this year and maybe meet with key players in Iowa, too.
Can Santa Claus be president someday?
No, because as soon as Santa Claus entered politics, everything he did would be called into question by his opponents. His reindeer-driven sleigh would be portrayed as damaging to the powerful airline industry. His habit of employing elves would be called an affront to organized labor. His North Pole enterprise would be called threatening to the pristine Arctic environment. His habit of sneaking into houses at night to leave gifts might even be called creepy.
Plus, all Santa Claus has to do is deliver toys to every house on earth on Christmas Eve. Why would he want to give that up in exchange for a job that's impossible?
Do presidents get to stay up past their bedtime?
They do, but since most of the jokes on late-television are about them, they prefer to turn in early.
Why can't children vote?
The world is a very complex place, but children tend view it in simple, black-and-white terms based on immature fears, wishes and impulses. We have enough of those kinds of voters already. You'll have to wait your turn.
Joe Blundo's column, So to Speak, appears in the Life section of The Columbus Dispatch . It's a mix of humor, human interest and information. A collection of his columns has been published in the book Dancing Dads, Defective Peeps and Buckeye Misadventures. He lives in Worthington with his wife and two children.