The parenting world is all aflutter over an 8-year-old "political activist" who faced down Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Word has it little Elijah gave the anti-gay candidate what for on behalf of his lesbian mom, and the whole family is enjoying their time as national heroes with their video gone viral. Which begs the question: America, did we see the same video?
Because I didn't see an 8-year-old activist. I saw a parenting fail of the first order.
Oh sure, Elijah and his mom did show up at Bachmann's South Carolina book signing. And he did get some face-time with the candidate. Heck, he even got her to lean across her table and get real close so he could whisper into her ear.
But that's where the two stories diverge. The Elijah I see in this video is terrified, not determined. And when he's uncomfortable about pushing the issue, he's pushed by an adult to repeat the heavily controversial, "My mommy's gay, but she doesn't need any fixing." Take a look -- and turn up the volume, because this "activist" whispers:
Does that look like a kid who is hell-bent on taking down a political candidate or a little boy being used as a puppet to you? As a gay rights activist and a mother both, I confess I found the video appalling.
I've seen a look like that on my daughter's face before -- when she was asked to give a kiss to an elderly relative. He's not going to hurt her; in fact, he loves her. But when you're 5, an old man who yells (because of his hearing aids) and wears an oxygen mask can be scary. But unlike this mom, I read her facial cues.
I backed off -- immediately -- and I took her into the next room to talk about how she was feeling and why she didn't want to give that kiss. Because my kid isn't my puppet. She's a person, with her own feelings. And although I like to joke that I'm giving her fodder for her therapy in 20 years, I really am trying to turn an emotionally well-adjusted kid out into the world. Part of that means understanding her boundaries.
Elijah's mom, who has willingly put her kid out there but so far will only tell people her name is Jennifer, says her son is the one who wanted to confront Bachmann. She may be telling the truth, and I completely support the sentiment! But when she saw how hard it was for him, it was up to her to put her role as parent above her role as pot stirrer.
Have your kids ever gotten really uncomfortable in a situation?
Image via YouTube