I don’t have kids of my own, but in the last 2 years I’ve been lucky enough to become an uncle three times over. Those kids are obviously too young to understand any of this, but as I watched the reactions to last night’s events pour in on TV this morning, I couldn’t help wondering to myself, what if they weren’t? What would I tell them if they started asking me questions? Their parents are out here working hard day after day to teach them to be honest, decent and respectful, and meanwhile this Trump character, who is acting so blatantly for all the world to see like none of those things, is rewarded with one of the most important jobs in the world. How would I make sense out of that in a way that a young mind is going to understand, especially when I’m not sure I quite get it myself? Saying that sometimes life isn’t fair feels like a cop-out, but also like the only good answer because yeah, sometimes life isn’t fair. Some days the bully is going to get away with your lunch money. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. Sometimes the guy who cheated off your paper is going to get a better mark than you do. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. Sometimes some loud-mouthed jerk is going to cause a bunch of trouble and you’re going to get the blame for it while he gets a gold star and an extra cookie. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. None of those things are right, but they happen and you can’t let them get you down too much, and you certainly can’t let them stop you from working hard and eating lunch. Sometimes the bad guys win a few fights, but that doesn’t mean you stop fighting and don’t win in the end. If something feels wrong it probably is, even if sometimes it feels like you’re the only one who thinks so. Right now, Trump is President even though he’s said and done a lot of scary, terrible things. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. But because that’s how it is now doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be. The bully who’s taking your money will get caught one day. They all do. The guy who copied off of you is going to look like a fool when he has to do something on his own. And the noisy jerk who wants everyone but him to take the blame for the problems he causes? The thing about guys like that is that they always end up pressing their luck a little too much and people wind up figuring out where all that noise is really coming from. And when they do, what goes around usually comes around. Trump is a little bit of all those people. He might be getting away with it now, but eventually he’s either going to have to shape up or face the music. As for you, you just do the best you can. You may not change the whole world all by yourself, but as long as you do your best to not be the things you don’t like, things are going to be ok.
Reading that back, I sound like somebody’s grandpa and I’m not even sure how much sense it all made because again, how do you make sense of this? But it’s something, I guess. If nothing else it made me feel a bit better. And if even part of it can make some kid somewhere feel the slightest bit encouraged and not lose his mind, awesome.
I feel for anyone having to have this conversation today. I’ll be honest, I’m glad I’m not you.