My daughter came barreling into our room at 6:30 am. My wife and I were already awake. We didn’t sleep much.
“Who’s the new president?” she asked, full of hope.
My wife and I sighed. “Buddy,” I said, “Trump won.”
“Ohh,” she said, and her face went a little blank. I could see her trying to process the news, trying to make sense of this thing. We tried to reassure her that voting for the first woman to run for president was a good thing, that a woman would someday be president, that we loved her very much.
My wife and I had been dreading this. As soon as we realized Trump was going to win, we wondered how we would break the news to our daughter. Here's the letter I wrote her last night when it became clear there wasn't going to be a woman president this time after all.
Today was supposed to be a celebration.
We took you to the grave of Susan B. Anthony and waited nearly two hours for the chance to put the thank-you note you made for her by her tombstone. It was going to be a day of celebration, a day you told your grandkids about, that you visited Susan B. Anthony’s grave on the day the first woman was elected president.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. It looks like a man who stands for everything opposite of what your mama and I do is going to be the president.
How do I explain it to you?
Tonight, after I read you a chapter from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I told you that when we woke up, we’d have a new president and we’d tell you right when you woke up.
One of the reasons I’ve had this awful knot in my stomach all night is thinking of that moment and what I’d tell you.
It’s easy for me to tell you bromides, to tell you that nothing’s going to change and that we still love you and we will generally be okay. But that undersells what’s happening. A lot of people could be hurt but what happened tonight. A dangerous man is being elected president. A lot of bad things could now happen. People we love and care about are very scared. And I’m not going to brush that aside as if it’s meaningless.
But at the same time, it’s easy to give in to hate, to despair, to sadness and fear. And that doesn’t feel right either. Because I want to teach you that when you’re faced with a bully, you don’t run away and you don’t hide. You stand up and you fight for what is right.
But most of all … I don’t want you to think about this. Because you’re 6. You’ve got new books to get at the library tomorrow, theater class tomorrow night. You’re two weeks away from your next performance. Your smile lights up a room. You always try to make people laugh, to make people feel better, to help. You’re friends with everyone in class, and you don’t care what color they are or whether or not they’re able-bodied. You are a good person.
Your job is to be the best 6-year-old you can be.
My job is to be the best 39-year-old I can be, to be the best dad, to do everything I can to keep you safe and well. That hasn’t changed, and that won’t change.
Because what’s happening in the world, buddy — that’s for me to worry about. You practice your violin, you keep being a good friend to all of your friends at school, you be an awesome Drizella. And I’ll be here. I’ll do the best I can and then try to be better tomorrow. Always. I’ll do everything I can do to make sure nothing bad happens to you. Always.
You mama and I have a saying that’s been our motto since before we got married: “We’ve got this.” No matter what happens in life, we will always be a family, and as long as we’re a family, we’ll be okay.
I’m sorry tonight is bringing bad news.
But you are loved. Tonight, tomorrow, and forever.
We’ve got this.
“Why do boys always get to be president?” my daughter asked this morning, after she'd let the news sink in. “It’s not fair!”
Within a few minutes, she was downstairs, coloring pictures she wanted to give to friends as presents.
This essay is adapted from a post that originally ran on Medium.
Brian Moritz is an assistant professor of digital journalism at SUNY Oswego and the author of sportsmediaguy.com. He and his family live in Fairport, New York.
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