Canvasing with Kids

We’re in the home stretch of the election season and I am feeling all the feelings. I am excited and terrified, energized and exhausted. I feel cautiously optimistic for the country, but also beaten down by the realities of campaigning for progressive platforms in a red state. I am torn between frantically wanting to do more – make calls, go to rallies, get more lawn signs – and wanting to hide under the covers and pray that the world looks better on January 20th.

I had to curtail my social media usage because my instinctive desire to fact check every post I see about the president was making me crazy. I’m combative like that, even though I know it is futile and unhealthy to engage. Surely this witty retort will be the one that makes a difference!

As an antidote to frustration and election jitteriness, I took my kids canvasing with me. It turns out, canvasing with kids is a blast. I highly recommend it.

I’ve gone canvasing periodically during this election season. Nowhere near as much as I should have been, given the stakes, but I’ve pounded the pavement a few times. This weekend, my kiddos and I claimed our own neighborhood from the list of identified turfs and set forth to do our part for democracy.

Before we could leap into action, however, my oldest child decided she wanted to label the fliers so we could easily identify which houses we were targeting. Our goal was to hit up registered Democrats who hadn’t voted yet, so we had a list of specific addresses that were to receive leaflets.

My daughter instantly sensed that this was a job for colorful gel pens. She carefully labeled each flier with the appropriate address, then added a sparkly flower for good measure, explaining to me that “no one can say to voting when there are glitter gel pens.”

I had never encountered this piece of campaign wisdom before, but it does make perfect sense. I wish more campaigns had embraced this reality. If I’m going to be inundated with marketing materials for months on end, at least they could sparkle!

Properly armed with embellished campaign leaflets, we were ready to go.

Kids make ideal canvasing buddies because they get such a kick out of racing up to people’s doors. My big kids joined me on foot, accompanied by our deranged dog who was delighted to be part of the festivities. My youngest child rode her bike, which was arguably not the most efficient transportation for the task. She would walk up to a house, hang a flier on the door, then return to her bike, ride one house over, stop and park the bike, walk up to the next door, and joyfully repeat.

Then there was my son, whose primary contribution to the mission was swinging a stick around his head and explaining its magical combat qualities while we walked. I’m not sure if he was imagining a scenario where he would need a magical sword/stick while encouraging others to vote, but fortunately the need did not arise.

Then there was the moment when we were passed by a neighbor we know, out for an afternoon jog. As he went past, I heard my firstborn intone in a quavering, spooky voice – “We know you haven’t voted yet, Shane…”

Ah, yes. Halloween 2020, where the most frightening thing imaginable is a delinquent voter. Clearly, I am doing something right as a mother. Or maybe I’ve completed failed to instill social graces in my feral offspring. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

We’ve done our part for democracy. Have you? Go vote. Please. It’s important.  

1 thought on “Canvasing with Kids”

  1. I feel your pain. Indiana is a very red state. All our neighbors are sporting Trump signs and flags. It’s extremely depressing!!


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