It’s been a rough five months since the inauguration, not to mention during the campaign, of answering questions from my nine-year-old about why Trump does and says what he, well, does and says.
I don’t turn on the news while she’s home, but that’s not like when I was growing up and phones were mounted on a wall and the ABC, CBS, and NBS news channels were scheduled only before and after the evening’s line-up of All In The Family or Happy Days.
Today, keeping news from a curious kid is like denying they smell skunk when you drive by one laying on the side of the road. You and they both know it’s there, and you both know something happened. For kids and news, the details — true or not — can be sniffed out in the newspaper and magazine headlines when going through the check-out line, or from other kids on the playground, or from what hasn’t been filtered through safety mode online.
And so Trump’s latest reaction to the horrific news of Manchester filters through, and provokes more questions. “Evil losers,” Trump said of the terrorists. “I won’t call them monsters, because they would like that term … I will call them from now on losers.”
In Trump’s game of life, losers are worse than monsters, and for kids these are strange words coming from the President of the United States. I try to teach my daughter that we are a country of leadership, yes, but leadership through kindness, intelligence, ingenuity, and opportunity. But “losers” and “monsters” are kids’ talk, and neither are of the empowering sort.
“You’re a loser!” the bully snarls.
“Is there a monster under my bed?” the small child asks fearfully.
But for Trump, losers are the worst name you can be called, the lowest form of humanity, the ones who would strap bombs on themselves and kill innocent young girls and teens and parents at a concert.
Winners, on the other hand, are the cream of the crop, and to win is the highest form of adoration — even if you have to stomp your feet and declare you won should someone doubt or even claim it was close. Take the election. Trump’s message is that he won in the biggest way ever, and the throng of masses that came out to the inauguration was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe, for that matter.
Trump’s petulant words and actions clearly convey, over and over, that it’s the size of the win that matters, and distancing yourself from pathetic losers is the name of the game. Maybe that’s why there wasn’t a grain of graciousness in his winning, why he’s still pecking at the crumbs of illegal voting and foul play.
Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of President Donald Trump‘s best-seller, “The Art of the Deal,” who spent nearly a year with Trump while writing the book and deeply regrets it, says, “There is no right and wrong for Trump. There’s winning and losing. And that’s very different from right and wrong.”
We can squabble until the cows come home about how much we agree or disagree on Trump’s politics and policies, but when it comes to our kids it’s also his personal practices that deeply concern me. Namely, that winning big must happen at all costs, no matter how you frame it — such as the photo he hung in the press hallway at the White House of the massive crowd he believes was at Inauguration day but was actually dated for the Women’s March the day after. And that losing is on par with terrorism.
As a parent, I don’t believe that every child who participates deserves a trophy, but I don’t believe it’s as black and white, good and evil, as winning versus losing, either. I do believe that right and wrong matter. And I teach my child that it’s how you play the game, any game, that matters in life — by the rules and with good sportsmanship, with passion and graciousness no matter the outcome of the game, no matter the margin of a win or loss.
If you can’t do that, maybe it’s time to be benched.
— Amy Rawe