The last presidential election was in 2012, when I was eight years old. All I remember was it was between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I thought that the winner was chosen by popular vote. Now I know about the primaries, conventions, and the debates.
My dad and I watched the debates together. My brother and mother don't like to watch politics, so it was just us. To me, it looked like Donald Trump was trying to distract his audience when he was asked about something that could ruin his campaign, instead of owning up to his problems.
I heard about how he got caught on tape saying horrible things about women. I didn't know how people could still vote for him when the whole idea of being an American was that people could be themselves and they would be treated fairly for it—especially women, who still voted for him after he completely showed that he cared nothing for women as people and cared more about them being his toys.
Two days before the election, we had a social studies assignment in which we would create our own map predicting who would win and what state would go to which candidate. I thought it was clear that Hillary Clinton would win. My map was like most others, showing all of the predictable states on their respective sides and battleground states going one way or another, and I think that I said that Clinton would lose only Iowa and Ohio. A lot of why I put Hillary in the lead was because I looked online for polls to see how all of the states usually voted. It seemed pretty realistic at the time.
Fast-forward to after school that next day. I went to swim practice, got home, and went to another house in the neighborhood with my swim parka on, where my dad was watching the returns. When I sat down on the couch, it was about eight thirty, and many of the states had been lost to Donald Trump. I was a little bit shaken, but I figured that since it was the beginning of the returns, I should stay positive. Slowly but surely, I started to lose my assurance. I wasn't sure who would win, but I was turning between the two thoughts of, "Donald Trump is going to win and ruin our country" and "No! Better stay positive. At least the West Coast hasn't been covered yet."
I tried to lighten the mood just so watching the returns wasn't as painful or unenjoyable. For example, I compared the whole election to a really bad fart, because it completely stinks, and when you run away from it, it comes back and lingers with you for a while. I think it worked, but pretty soon the smiles disappeared, and I heard many sighs and words of disappointment. I tried to ignore it, but once Trump won North Carolina and Florida, I lost myself. I asked my dad if we could go home, and he looked at me like I didn't even have to ask him.
On the way home I remember saying, "Dad, we can't have a president whose hair looks like that." I was trying to make him laugh. I didn't want him to be unhappy, so I tried to make it into a joke. My dad reminded me of the real issue at hand. I realized that it really wasn't anything to joke about, and I just stayed silent after that.
I didn't think I was going to be able to sleep comfortably that night because the stress of the election was going to prey on me once I got into bed. Just before we got to our house, I had an idea.
"Hey, Dad," I said. "Can we meditate?"
We'd started doing meditation pretty recently, before a swim meet, when I was telling my dad that I was worried about an event. He told me to try something with him, and my mind was open to it. We meditated for just five minutes, and I felt a lot better. This time I said we should do it for ten. We did, and it helped me to be able to sleep that night.
A couple of days later, the idea of a Trump presidency still haunts me. Sometimes I wake up and think about how many days we still have left until Trump gets inaugurated. But the other thing I think about is that he's only president for four years. If he has a hard time passing his laws and ideas through Congress, then he's going to have a hard time changing our beautiful country.
This article appeared in print with the headline "The Eyes of a Child."