Schoolyard lessons (a meditation on raising children in the time of Trump)

“Hello, sweetheart.  How was school?”

“Mommy, Bernie is calling me a not nice name and it makes me feel bad.”

“I’m sorry, dear.   I’m sure he’ll stop.”

“He called me Poopy Fatso.”

“Oh dear, that’s not very nice.  What did you do?”

“I told him it’s not nice to call people names.”


“He said the President has a not nice name for everybody, like ‘Little Mario,’ or ‘Crooked Hillary,’ so that means it’s ok.  Bernie said he would never call me Danny again, but only Poopy Fatso.”

“Well, he’s wrong; I’m sure he’ll forget about it after a few days.   How did Mrs. Gonzalez like your report on Canada?”

“She really liked it.  She used a big word . . .I remember, she said it was ‘brilliant.’  That means I’m very very smart.   You know, Mommy, I think I’m smarter than any of the other kids in the class.”

“Darling, you are very smart, but you mustn’t brag about it.  No one likes a braggart.   How do you think the other children feel if you tell them that you're smarter than they are?  It’s not polite.”

“But, Mom . . .  The President brags like all the time.  ‘I’m a winner, you’re a loser; I’m a winner, you’re a loser . . .’  So why isn’t this the same?  Why can’t I say that I’m smart and all the other kids are stupider?”

“Sweetheart, that’s not a word.  And it’s entirely different when the President does it.   He’s a politician.”

“But the President is like the most important person in the world.  I want to be like him.”

“Who did you have lunch with today?”

“Steve Collins.   His Mom gave him potato chips with his lunch.”

“You know we don’t eat potato chips.”

“He said that his father has more money than Daddy.   He said I didn’t have potato chips because Daddy is poor, and that poor people are losers.”

“Danny, money isn’t everything.  We are not poor.   Daddy has a very important job that helps people and makes him happy, that’s what matters.”

“No it’s not.   Only rich people are cool, because they have the money to get cool stuff.   Like the President.   I want a plane with my name on it.   I want three wives with big boobies.  I want all my stuff covered in gold.”

“Danny!  Where did you learn that word?  It’s not polite to talk about boobies.   Please don’t use that word.   Who else did you have lunch with?”

“Carlos, a new kid.”

“That’s nice.  Do you like him?”


“Why not?”

“He talks funny.”

“Sweetheart, that’s called an accent.  It just means he came from somewhere else.  We all did, at some time.”

“We gave him a noogie.”


“After lunch Steve sat on him and called him names and I am gave him a noogie.   Everybody stood around and watched.   Carlos cried.”

“Danny!  How could you do such a thing?  That’s terrible.  Wait ‘til your father hears this.  There is nothing worse than being a bully.  What were you thinking?”

“The President said that people who talk funny and aren’t like us need to go back where they came from.  I was just trying to help.”

“What?  That’s not what he means.”

“Yes it is.  Anyway, Carlos is small, so we could do it.”

“Danny, you know better than that.  You can’t pick on people who are weaker than you.  How do you think Carlos felt?   Did you ever think about what it would be like to be Carlos and have someone sit on you and give you a noogie in front of all the kids?  Would you like that?”

“But, Mom . . .  I’m not Carlos.  I don’t talk funny.   And I don’t like him.   The President says nasty things about everyone he doesn’t like, or anyone who is mean to him.   So that’s what I’m gonna do.”

“That is not what you are going to do, Danny.  Your father and I have always taught you to be a nice person.  You have to be polite, to respect other kids.  To think about other people’s feelings.  Never be mean.  Don’t call kids names.  Don’t be a bully.   Danny, you know all this.  What’s come over you?”

I don’t want to be a loser.”