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Free the Pee

children mentioned and photographed…

For the first time, I have the option to vote without the Wolvog and ChickieNob. I can drop them off at preschool, nip over to the polls, and still have enough time to grab a salted caramel hot chocolate at the nearby Starbucks before picking them up. It would certainly be easier on my back because I wouldn’t have to pick them up to push the buttons. It would ensure a little more privacy since they have a tendency to shout my voting record over the side of the booth.

So let’s just get that out of the way then: I’m voting for Obama.

Up until this point, they have voted with me out of necessity. Due to my neuroses as well as my limited child care coverage, we’re sort of a package deal. In 2004, I strapped on my Maximom and walked down the street to the elementary school like an enormous opossum. Except for the fact that I couldn’t really see over their heads to view the voting machine, it was an excellent plan.

2006 was the year of the nipple. Just as I was about to vote, the Wolvog broke free, ran to the center of the room, lifted up his shirt and screamed, “Peoples, these. are. my. niiiiiipples.” To which the ChickieNob gave a serious head nod in agreement to all of our neighbours who were trying to decide who would make the best comptroller. “They are,” she agreed, “his nipples.”

They came with me to the primaries a few months ago and informed the room who I thought would make the best candidate for sheriff. Since February, every time we pass our polling place, they ask if it is time to vote again. They solemnly inform people trying to buy heads of lettuce at the food store that their “mommy is voting for Obama.” Interestingly enough, while McCain refers to Obama as “that one,” my children refer to Palin as “that woman.”

This election kicked off a host of discussions including why women shouldn’t just blindly vote for someone because they’re a woman (a message the ChickieNob passed along to the poor, unsuspecting people at the library who were waiting to check out books and heard, “you shouldn’t vote for that woman because she wants to control your body and I think she’s against My Little Pony too”) as well as why preschool classmates sometimes switch over mid-year when their parents lose their appointments.

It also kicked off a host of less illuminating moments such as the time that we told the kids that all of the traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike was caused by the man driving the car with the “Nobama” bumper sticker and they wailed at the man each time we inched past him during the hour-long congestion.

It is interesting to see how their experience of elections growing up in the DC Metro area differs from my own experience growing up. We talked about it in school and we voted in our Weekly Readers and I knew which kids had parents who worked for government and therefore probably wouldn’t make the best friends because they’d be possibly moving every four years. Politicians were not these remote figures you saw only on the news. They were the parents of my friends or the friends of our parents. But government is the backdrop for the area so it didn’t really register. I didn’t know who my parents voted for and I don’t remember looking forward to going to vote (maybe because there were no buttons to press as there are now).

The ChickieNob and Wolvog have election overload. They can read everyone’s name because they’ve seen it constantly on lawn signs and newspaper covers, but they’re also bombarded with Obama’s funky “O” and McCain’s little star every time they open up Firefox so they can play the Wonder Pets game. They hear way too much and I haven’t even turned on NPR in months. They ask why does the President’s house have to be white and what is a tax and why is John McCain so old?

I simply have no memory of being this attune to the election season.

The reason I’m having them vote with me tomorrow is not because I want to use the preschool hours to work on the LFCA or because I want to educate them on their civic duty or because they are such a good source of entertainment for my neighbours that I hate to take their comedy routine away from them. These are all good reasons, but I am taking them to vote because of a referendum that was struck from the ballot at last minute this summer but which we have been promised will still have petitioning and picketing outside of the polling station.

There is a group aiming to overturn a bill that gives equal rights to those who are transgendered or transsexual. The protest focuses on the issue of bathrooms and they have been petitioning outside of local food stores for months, trying to get transgendered and transsexual men and women banned from public bathrooms. Without really touching on who is being targeted, we used the whole brouhaha to explain to the twins why they need to treat everyone fairly and never make someone feel wrong for being themselves. We explained that everyone needs to pee and everyone needs to be potty-trained and everyone needs access to a bathroom. If not, they get urinary tract infections. Essentially, these people want others to be in tremendous pain from a UTI AND feel ashamed for who they are.

And it doesn’t matter if they are speaking about a group you belong to or not. It is important to protect everyone because you never know when you will need protection too. People who are willing to treat one group unfairly are most likely willing to treat a multitude of groups unfairly. And our focus is not on trying to change the unfair, smallminded, idiotic people in this world, but instead, to lend support, time, our words, our energy to making sure the rest of the people in this world are kept safe from mean words, mean actions, and UTIs.

We also told them that if anyone approached us with the petition and Mommy gave the signal, they should scream, “free the pee!” and make a pissing sound while dancing around. While I can’t get away with this, they certainly can.

Hence why I need them to come with me to vote.


1 L { 11.03.08 at 12:06 pm }

That is brilliant! I wish I could be there to see the looks on the ignorant protesters faces. Ha ha. Free the pee. I love it!

2 Feliz Dianne Flutter { 11.03.08 at 12:10 pm }

BRAVO! Truly brilliant. FREE THE PEE! πŸ™‚

3 Mama { 11.03.08 at 12:31 pm }

OMG, I wasn’t going to take the kids with me to vote tomorrow but I might just have to try it to pull a “free the pee” at our polls!

You’ll appreciate this one: our 5-year old niece said she would vote for Obama because “he is close to my favorite color, purple. But McCain is very, very, very white.” Guess Barney would be elected President if it were up to my niece and her preschool friends!

4 Lori { 11.03.08 at 12:39 pm }

One of your many charms is that you can make me furrow my brow while thinking deeply and then bust a gut while laughing deeply.

Love the pic. Love it!

5 N { 11.03.08 at 12:40 pm }

Free the pee! I love it.

Yeah, that proposal makes me so mad. I can’t wait to vote against the hate tomorrow. I may not be in CA, but I can do my little part here.

6 Meghan { 11.03.08 at 12:42 pm }

Free the pee 08!! I love it!

oh…and I just had the salted caramel hot chocolate yesterday and it is now one of my most favorite things. I might need to get another one today

7 Spicy Sister { 11.03.08 at 1:21 pm }

Amen sister! free the pee!!!!

8 annacyclopedia { 11.03.08 at 1:30 pm }

Enormous opossum! Free the pee! She’s against My Little Pony, too!


This post ranks as one of the funniest of all time. You are a genius, and I salute you.

9 Leah { 11.03.08 at 1:36 pm }

Good grief, you crack me up.

10 bleu { 11.03.08 at 1:49 pm }

FREE THE PEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11 Cece { 11.03.08 at 2:14 pm }

You crack me up!

12 tragicoptimist { 11.03.08 at 2:32 pm }

Brilliant post all around.

Oh, I hope your kids are approached by someone with a petition and I hope someone has a camera ready to catch the petitioners expression. Love it!!

13 Tara { 11.03.08 at 2:36 pm }

That’s awesome. I would love to see it.

14 C { 11.03.08 at 2:54 pm }

LOL — I love it!

On the subject of pee, DH and I are visiting our hometown this week, and in the car today, we passed the local sledding hill where we both spent many happy winter days while growing up. DH remarked that the trees at the top of the hill were exceptionally large all these years later. “We used to take a piss behind them,” he informed me.

So maybe not TOO free to pee.

15 Dora { 11.03.08 at 3:03 pm }

I didn’t know “that woman” was against My Little Pony. That decides it for me. Thanks, Chickinob!

FREE THE PEE!! Can we get t-shirts made up?

16 Somewhat Ordinary { 11.03.08 at 3:05 pm }

OMG, you and your kids are too funny! We don’t have that on our ballot, but I’ll be thinking “Free the Pee” when I make my voote heard tomorrow! And, you know I never have any cool voting stories-my polling place is pretty bland.

17 A.M.S. { 11.03.08 at 3:14 pm }

That’s what was missing from the early voting place…Wolvog and Chickienob!

Free the Pee!

18 Kristen { 11.03.08 at 4:02 pm }

I really need to move to your neck of the woods so I can be present for this! LOL

19 Aurelia { 11.03.08 at 4:17 pm }

I love you for this, so much.

20 Bea { 11.03.08 at 5:24 pm }

“…our focus is not on trying to change the unfair, smallminded, idiotic people in this world, but instead, to lend support, time, our words, our energy to making sure the rest of the people in this world are kept safe…”

I should have this printed up. I get so sucked in to trying to fight the war that can’t be won, instead of the one that can. So much wasted energy.

On the other hand, I am not telling Mr Bea the “free the pee” story, lest it give him Ideas about future elections.


21 calliope { 11.03.08 at 6:00 pm }

free the pee! I can not stop laughing.
& seriously? That photo is all kinds of kick ass!

"salted caramel hot chocolate"???? I had no idea that was in the world. Must venture forth to try it SOON!

22 Jess { 11.03.08 at 6:16 pm }

Free the pee!




That is an AWFUL proposal. It really truly is! Awful! I can’t see ANY reason that it’s needed. Not ONE! Awful!!

(PS…my word verification is sweati…is that not funny? Makes me think of the SNL skit “schwetty balls”)

23 Jen { 11.03.08 at 7:27 pm }

Okay, I really hope they get to shout that.

24 PJ { 11.03.08 at 7:34 pm }

That’s ridiculously funny! Free the pee! πŸ™‚

As I was teaching my kids about the voting process today, I had to appear to remain neutral, because that’s what good teachers do. I think. But inside I was screamin’ Obama!

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks? My new favorite! I’m planning on consuming up as much as possible over the next few weeks before I swear off caffiene for my next IVF.

25 Care { 11.03.08 at 8:21 pm }

Free the Pee – I love it! I hope they get the chance to shout it out.

And seriously? Salted caramel hot chocolate? Oh my! I haven’t stopped at a Starbucks in ages, but this is worth a detour to try.

26 Manda { 11.03.08 at 8:34 pm }

Free the pee!

I want to go vote with you now.

27 Natalie { 11.03.08 at 8:59 pm }

Free the pee!!! Bwahahahahahaa.

28 Tash { 11.03.08 at 9:18 pm }

Ok, I was giggling at the pee, and then I caught the comment above about salted caramel hot chocolate and now I’m all bothered . . .

Shoot me, I’m kinda dreading taking Bella to the polls tomorrow (no school, parent/teacher conferences, nice timing) not because I’m nervous about her announcing who I’m voting for and outright asking those around her, but because I’m certain there’s going to be lonnnnngggg line. By the end of which any possible civics lesson will be drowned in the world’s biggest temper tantrum. I was kinda hoping to have a private moment in the booth.


29 luna { 11.03.08 at 9:21 pm }

that is just too perfect. I love it.

seriously tough, I love how engaged they are, and yes, entertaining! free the pee indeed.

we’ve got a huge issue on the ballot here in cal., prop 8, that would ban gay marriage. can’t understand why the mormons would pour millions into this prop — you’d think a group associated with alternative family structure would not begrudge others’ family building.

30 Another Dreamer { 11.03.08 at 9:21 pm }


Brilliant, loved the stories about the kiddos!

31 nonlineargirl { 11.03.08 at 10:09 pm }

One of the nice things about vote by mail in Oregon is that you have the time to think about your vote and choose your candidates at your leisure (plus, no lines!). Now that my daughter is old enough to talk about what we are doing, my husband and I include her in the process. Plus, with twins on the way I am very glad not to have to worry about how to corral kids and vote simultaneously.

32 Vintage Mommy { 11.03.08 at 11:55 pm }

What will the conservative crazies think of next?

33 luna { 11.04.08 at 12:28 am }

and I forgot to mention that I happened to be in a starbucks not long ago wasting time in between an appt and workshop, and guess what free tasters they were handing out — salted caramel whatever you said! mmm.
though I have to say, even better for that taste was from a local cafe — home made vanilla bean ice cream with warm caramel and fresh sea salt. oh my…

34 Smiling { 11.04.08 at 1:59 am }

thanks for the smile.. although I hope you aren’t too disappointed if they don’t get to use that great line! I can’t see how there are too many chances for them to put their well-honed dance to such good use;0)

35 Io { 11.04.08 at 6:42 am }

Forget bringing the children, I want to come with you to vote! I mean, I love my voting place and all, but it sounds way less exciting than yours.
And your kids are awesome. AWESOME.

36 loribeth { 11.04.08 at 8:03 am }

Leave it to you & your kids to come up with a totally unique spin on this election. ; )

37 Bean { 11.04.08 at 8:46 am }

BRILLIANT! I just wish I lived nearer to you. We’ve been having a lot of election conversations in our house too. My husband actually refused to tell our daughter who he was voting for because he didn’t want her to announce it to the world. He did take her to vote this morning and told her afterward. Apparently, though she frequently commented on all our neighbors yard signs and bumper stickers, she failed to notice the Obama sticker on my husbands car. πŸ˜‰

38 Kristin { 11.04.08 at 10:48 am }

OMG…I really think I love you Mel! YOu are incredibly funny.

39 battynurse { 11.04.08 at 12:39 pm }

Oh how I wish I could go watch you all go to vote.

40 docgrumbles { 11.04.08 at 3:27 pm }

I actually thought of the nipples story when I voted today because the woman behind me had a toddler with her who was being very vocal. He didn’t yell out anything about his nipples, though.

41 zandor { 11.04.08 at 5:41 pm }

That was awesome. I want to go with you just to hear/see that happen.

42 Jaymee { 11.04.08 at 7:29 pm }

the kids need to take that show on the road.

“that woman” being against my little pony is insanely funny.

the picture is way too much.

this post almost made me free my own pee!!

43 nancy { 11.04.08 at 8:09 pm }

I love that you said this: “Due to my neuroses as well as my limited child care coverage”. It made me giggle.

And yes, everyone needs to pee.

44 Karen { 11.05.08 at 3:30 pm }

I love you and your politically minded activist children, I really do. Sorry I can’t do lunch tomorrow. Next week for SURE.

45 Rebecca { 11.06.08 at 8:25 am }

My Politics teacher called Margaret Thatcher “That Woman”. Too funny.

You made history! Go you! (And your babies, who will look back in twenty years and think, go us!)

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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