Two weeks ago my ten year old daughter walked into my room and said this:
"Is it true that Obama wants to kill babies living in pregnant womens bodies?"
Oh my head.
Deploying my oldest teacher technique, I responded with a question:
"What do you mean? I am not sure I understand your question."
What unfolded was an explanation offered to my daughter by a classmate of the politics of abortion, through a lens of a pro-life religious viewpoint.
Emily is an ardent supporter of President Obama. As expatriate Americans, her father and I both voted for him, and she loves the story of his parenthood which seems so familiar to her. She, too, is a biracial child, "just like the President".
This conversation occurred after Emily was talking about how much she LIKED the new President of the United States. Her peer retorted, with all the self confidence of a ten year old repeating information heard from her parent, that Emily's new hero was, in essence, a baby killer.
Because a shot of tequila was not at hand, I had to take only a deep breath and try to sort out the basic information on the tricky and personal topic of the right to choose whether or not a woman carries a fetus to term that I wanted to convey.
"You and Daddy chose to have me...", Emily offerred.
"Yes, love. Daddy and I planned to have a baby and then we found out we were having you - and we were very happy. But some people aren't ready to have a baby when they find out they are pregnant. So they have a choice whether or not to continue being pregnant. President Obama believes that people should be able to continue to have that choice - he doesn't want to take babies from Mom's who are wanting to be pregnant - he wants to make sure that the law says that people can make that choice for themselves, if they need to. Just like Mommy and Daddy think that you can't tell people who they can love, and who they can't love - we don't believe that you can tell someone that they have to have a baby if they have personal reasons for not wanting to have a baby."
I paused. I held my breath. This conversation could really tumble out of the realms of what I was already unprepared to discuss. Topics like birth control, sexuality, religion were flashing like neon signs in front of my eyes. Em has a very basic and unembellished idea of how babies are made....but it is a concept that she understands in a very non technical way. I was not ready nor eager to increase her knowledge of this topic either.
She digested this all quietly. I followed with my standard, "Do you have any other questions about what I said?"
In my head, I was strangling the mother who I knew had started this little interlude. I wanted to rake her over the coals - not for her personal viewpoint with which I disagreed, but for her decision to drag our ten year old daughters into this discussion. Her decision to make statements to HER daughter was now leaking into my bedroom forcing me to discuss issues of sexuality and contraception and the politics of pregnancy.
Emily is far more practical. "Can I tell Unnamed Child that she is wrong?"
I hesitate. "Well, perhaps you can tell her that you don't believe that her information is entirely accurate."
So unnamed Mother...Did you feel my laser beam eyes in your skull last night at the school concert? Because they were trained on you, I assure you.