What I told my Canadian kids about the American election

I was 3,000 miles and one national border away from my kids on election night. Here’s what I wrote them in response to their terrified messages.

Dear Sweetie and Peanut,

I woke up thinking of both of you, and wishing I were there with you right now to hear how you’re feeling and give you both big hugs. It sucks that I’m in the U.S. right now!

But waking up on the east coast has given me a little time to think about what I want to tell you when you wake up. I know you were both feeling scared last night, and you might still be feeling scared this morning.

Here’s what you need to know: our family is going to be okay. We are really lucky to be living in Canada (aren’t you glad that your grandparents moved here?) and to live in a community of people who also feel horrified at the idea of Donald Trump being President. When you go to school today, I am sure that pretty much all the other kids — and teachers — are going to be feeling sad and scared too. The people you are surrounded by every day are people who do not think it’s ok to be a bully, or to be racist, or to hurt women. And they are also people who value hard work, intelligence and thoughtful decision-making. Donald Trump is not their role model, and he is not going to change the way Canadians treat one another.

I know you’re still worried about what this is going to mean for the world, and for all our friends and family in the U.S. I can’t lie to you: it’s not good. And I’m really, really proud of both of you for being informed enough and smart enough and compassionate enough to be scared and sad right now.

But truly, Dad and I have been scared like this before. We were scared when George W. Bush won. We were scared when George Bush senior won. (Did you know that George Bush’s dad was once President, too?) And your Dad was probably scared when Ronald Reagan won, because he is really really old and actually remembers that far back. ;)

Every time we were scared, we did one thing that made us a little less scared: we looked for something we could do to help people who are vulnerable, and to try and build up support for the kinds of political leaders we believe in. That’s actually how we ended up starting our business: when George Bush was President, we wanted to do work with the kind of people and organizations that were actually trying to make the world a better and fairer place.

That’s the work that has always, always made me feel better when I am scared and worried about the world. Sweetie, I don’t know if I ever told you that when I was pregnant with you, I had nightmare after nightmare in which the world was coming to an end and I was terrified about what was going to happen to you. Those nightmares went away once I started doing work that felt like it was making a difference, each and every day.

So I would encourage each of you to take all that fear and worry you’re feeling, and think of something you can do to address the stuff you’re worried about. Sweetie, maybe you want to make some more of those amazing videos! Peanut, maybe you want to think about doing some writing, because you have an incredible perspective on the world, and lots of people are fascinated by your particular perspective as a super smart autistic kid. (In fact we can all think about what we can do to help American families with autistic kids, who might be especially worried today.) And you can both do what you’ve already been doing on the Minecraft servers you play on, which is to call people out when you see them being racist or sexist or anti-Semitic or homophobic. It matters more than ever.

The one other thing I want you to know is that this isn’t all bad. Your grandfather came to Canada for a job, but at the time my parents came to Canada, there were a lot of other Americans making the same move because they were against the Vietnam war; a lot of my friends’ parents were “draft dodgers”. Those Americans brought amazing political energy and culture and love to Canada, and made it a better country. We’ll probably get some more awesome Americans moving to Canada because of this election,so you should start thinking about which of your favourite American friends (and TV shows!) you want to see here. Maybe next season we can get Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to fall in love with an ex-boyfriend who lives in Vancouver.

I am totally safe here, and I’m also going to be surrounded by people who are thinking WHAT THE FUCK. So don’t worry about me. I’ll be home soon, and then we can think about how we are going to tackle this all together.

Love you lots.

xo

Mum

Author, Remote Inc: How To Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are. Tech speaker. Writer & data journalist for Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review & more.

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