As parents, we try to shield our young children from the horrors of reality. Some might replace a dead goldfish while the kids are at school, or perhaps tell the little ones that their uncle is "on vacation" rather than in prison. Some take the long way home to avoid anti-choice protesters waving grotesque signs. But sometimes there's no avoiding reality, and the reality is that Donald J. Trump, hotelier and part-time woman insulter, is running for President of the United States. He's unavoidable, so eventually you'll need to know how to explain Donald Trump to your kid.
This won't be easy, obviously. You can dance around other heavy topics, only revealing what your child actually needs to know. Some kids even accept it when you promise to explain when they're older. But Trump is on your TV, on your computer, and in your neighbors' yards, and you're terrified of what Grandma might be telling him when you're not around. The time to act is now, before Junior comes home from preschool crying, asking you if his best friends are going to be deported.
Let's break it down step by step, answering each question a young child might have about our potential future cherisher-in-chief.
"Who Is That Man? Why Is He So Angry?"
This is the stage when you can still do a little bit of shielding. Maybe your toddler walked in while you were catching a clip of the latest debate on your phone, or they played a campaign ad during a show that you assumed was OK for kids. In that case, just tell her, "That man is Donald Trump, and he's wants to be the next president." As far as his grumpy demeanor is concerned, just explain that he "doesn't get along with" whoever he's addressing at the moment (Hillary Clinton, Megyn Kelly, any woman ever). Use it as a teachable moment: "What should we do when we don't agree with someone else?," thus demonstrating that even a small child has more common sense than The Donald.
"Why Do You Growl When We Pass That House?"
"Because Mommy doesn't like the neighbor's lawn decor, honey."
"Why Does His Hair Look Like That?"
It's so tempting to make fun of that hair. I get it. I mean, honestly, what's going on up there? But if you open up that can of worms, your kid might go on to make fun of Marcia's Clark's hair, or loudly comment about the lady with flaming red hair in the checkout line of the supermarket (which I find rather rude). You've got to nip that sh*t in the bud, explaining that different people have different opinions on hairstyles, and that it's not polite to comment on other people's personal appearances. Point out that if everybody had the exact same hairstyle, the world would be pretty boring.
"What Does 'Cherish' Mean?"
"While most people understand 'cherish' to mean 'to hold something dear,' recently, it has come to also be used colloquially as 'to demean, patronize, or oppress,' at least in some circles, and that's why Mr. Trump uses it to talk about women."
"Why Does Donald Trump Hate [Fill In the Blank]?"
If you have an older kid, you might be faced with some of the tougher questions about Trump, such as the way he talks about Mexicans, Muslims, Women, et al. Explaining racism to a kid or teaching your kid about sexism are obviously very loaded subjects that can't be covered in just a paragraph. But if you're trying to keep it simple – either because you feel your child's a little too young, or because you're in the waiting room at the dentist and now is really not the time – explain that intolerant people are ignorant people, plain and simple. Someone who would label citizens of a certain country as criminals, or force people who practice a certain religion to be tracked in a database, was either never taught any better, or perhaps, was specifically taught to be hateful.
"What's Abortion, And Why Does He Want To Stop It?"
"An abortion is a medical procedure, and he wants to stop them because he wants to be in charge of other people's bodies. But you and I both know that you're the boss of your own body, right?" Note that this conversation will be a little deeper if your kid's in middle school...
"Could Donald Trump Really Become President?"
Lie! I'm normally all about 100 percent honesty in my house, but for goodness' sake, there's a fine line between being honest and being terrifying. I'm not going to let my first grader watch The Walking Dead (yet), and I'm for damn sure not telling him that our country could fall into the hands of this guy.