My son's head was bent in concentration. He bit his lower lip as he copied the image on my campaign button, looking back and forth, from button to poster board. His small, kindergarten hand clutched the borrowed marker, slowly eeking out the capital letter B.
He carried that sign with both hands as we walked the five blocks to the meeting place. The site I had read about on a local mothers' club bulletin board this morning.
A fourth grader at our neighborhood school had organized the rally. She and several girlfriends painted signs. Her parents purchased balloons and called the local paper. All because her teacher had received a pink slip.
A lot of our teachers and librarians and counselors and reading specialists received one too. But for this girl, it was one pink slip too many. And she wasn't letting go of her teacher without a fight.
Kids gathered on two street corners at a major intersection. They out-numbered their adults three to one. Blue and orange balloons bobbed in the spring breeze. Signs waved. Childish voices, ringing loud with determination, chanted YES ON B, YES ON B, YES ON B, imploring the adults - the ones with the votes - to save teachers' jobs, keep school libraries open, maintain PE programs, expose students to music and art.
The news has been full of outrage over "spending our children's future." About taxes and recovery plans. About earmarks and secession. We embrace that righteous indignation, secure in the knowledge that our cause is just. It is "for the kids."
But we overlook just who these kids are. How hard times are shaping them as well. Honing their determination. Defining their values. Creating a generation of kids who do not take a challenge lying down.
They organize rallies to pass a property tax.
They empty piggy banks and collect coins to save a school library.
They round up prizes and sell raffle tickets to their friends.
They cull through their toy chests and sell off their favorite Rescues Heroes.
They sell lemonade, paint posters, and run for funds.
As grown ups, it is our job to worry. To shield our children from loss. To take the brunt of the hard times.
But it is also our job to let go of the next generation. To allow them the freedom to fight for those things that they hold close. To let them know that they can and do make a difference. To offer opportunities for involvement, for leadership, for change. And to get behind them 100 percent.
Standing on a street corner, surrounded by chanting elementary school students, I no longer feared for the future. The economic collapse seemed a mere bump in the road. The melting ice caps and shifting climates adaptable.
It's not that I won't do my part, that I won't shoulder my share and then some, that I won't work each day and night to lessen my carbon footprint or increase the school budget. I will. But I'll do it knowing that the future is in capable hands.