Last night at midnight, our theoretical family bedtime, we were listening to the most recent episode of our favorite podcast, Chapo Traphouse. And they started screaming at listeners to go to New Hampshire to get people to vote for Bernie. “Go to Durham, New Hampshire! Bernie needs your help in Durham!”
I said to the kids, “We’re going. We’re going to Durham.”
The kids ignored me.
I said, “No really. Pack up your stuff. Boston is about an hour away from Durham.”
I had to look really firm in order to get the kids to believe me, but here is the thing: My oldest son thinks he wants to study political science, and he loves Bernie, and I don’t want him to try politics after he spends four years studying it. So I called an Uber and told the kids to pack Cliff Bars for breakfast and we left.
With the dog, one more important endorser of Bernie:
My youngest son said, “Wait. Am I bringing my cello?”
My older son said, “You’re an idiot.”
The Uber driver, “I need to stop for gas.”
I said, “Fine.”
I woke up when the car stopped. We were out of gas. At 2am in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire where gas stations were all closed. The Uber driver walked a block to a man sleeping in his truck. The man said that if we had cash, he would take us somewhere for gas.
My son said, “We’re leaving right now.”
I was so proud to have kids that could not only campaign but save their lives in an Uber disaster.
Even though I know you are always supposed to pack for the car breaking down, we didn’t. I gave my coat to the dog. As I watched the Uber driver getting into the red truck, I looked for the emergency number on the Uber app. It’s labeled HELP. I called to report that their Uber driver was probably being abducted. A recording said the helpline is out of service and will be fixed shortly. There was no other Uber in sight, but Lyft somehow popped up on my screen and offered to pick us up in 45 minutes.
Our hotel was two miles away, so we started walking.
I thought the walk would be scary but then I realized we are walking through a neighborhood of homes built in the 1700s. I pointed out architectural intricacies of the Live Free or Die colonists. I knew my kids were scared because they were genuinely interested in my proof that we were in a safe neighborhood.
Then the boys got bold.
They led the way and talked about how they will always remember how much I did to campaign for Bernie, and they will never call me a boomer again. Relief: I worried this would go down in the records as one of the times I endangered the kids’ lives. (By the way, if Uber’s lawyers are reading this, I think actually it’s Uber endangering lives by making people think there is actually a help button on their app.)
We knew we were going in the right direction when streetlights made a median glow like an election oasis.
Our hotel was full of campaigners, presumably asleep but we knew we were in the right place.
The next morning my kids were up and ready to go faster than ever before. As I walked out the door with the dog, I noticed someone didn’t have underwear on, which I took it as a sign of excitement and we headed to Durham.
At University of New Hampshire, we found the Bernie people. My kids were nervous and excited and everything they should be when they are learning about themselves. I wanted to take a thousand pictures but I also wanted to model the importance of being useful, which is not my strong suit. I said, “We are here from Boston. What can we do to help?”
The Bernie workers cheered and pointed the boys toward a table. I took pictures while the boys got training.
The boys listened and asked questions. And my older son said for maybe the first time in his whole life, “Mom take my picture too.”
When I was getting ready to go last night, I was so scared that I was making the wrong decision. Kids need stability. And I was telling my kids they can’t go to bed because we’re taking a road trip.
But I’ve spent decades writing about how you need to try a career to see if you’ll like it. Trying anything new is scary; I want my kids to be brave enough to try stuff to see if they will like it instead of pretending they know they will like it to put off the scary part for later.
I am actually shocked that my kids like campaigning, but to be honest I am shocked that I like blogging about campaigning: I support Bernie because the only way parents will to be able to spend time with their kids and earn money at the same time is if this country disentangles human value and economic value; we’ve been counting the wrong things, and voting for Bernie is a big step toward fixing that.