How the President Kicked Me in the Arse

When I was twelve, the city I lived in elected its first female mayor. As a young girl full of geeky teenaged hopes and aspirations I stood by and watched in wonder as the gender barrier was broken and was only slightly miffed that time had not stood still and waited for me to grow up and claim that title for myself.

That lady's political and social accomplishments inspired my young self to become politically active, landing my accomplishments in the local newspapers for an impromptu political rally I organized but also finding my arse in the principal's office after the rally went rogue and property was damaged. I ended up on a three-day school suspension for my part in the rally gone wrong.

It's hard being a fourteen-year-old politician, yo. 

My political career ended shortly there after but my passion for politics has burned brightly ever since. 

I make no secret of the fact I want my children to be as ardent in their political viewpoints as I am, what ever they may be. I will love them just the same even if they do grow up to be like minded with their father and morph into kitten killing Christian conservatives. 

After all, it takes all kinds to make the world go round. At least our family dinners will always be entertaining as we argue over political doctrines as we pass the mashed potatoes.

Yesterday I took the opportunity to share my passion for world politics with my kids and I yanked their little hineys out of school to make them endure the American presidential inauguration ceremony with me. 

While my children may not have been as enthralled with the magic of the moment as I myself was and I may or may not have had to threaten to sit on them and duct tape their mouths shut while President Obama spoke, I hope that my enthusiasm for the moment will be remembered by them when they grow older and begin to understand the historical significance of what they witnessed while their momma hushed them, turned the volume higher and threatened to hang them by their toenails if they didn't pay attention.

After the big event was over and my children were getting ready to return to the prison they call school, I stumbled around trying to explain to them the magnitude of the events just witnessed. I fumbled around while trying to touch on all of the important issues highlighted with yesterday's inauguration while trying to explain how all of this is relevant in their tiny little rural lives.

But it wasn't until I dropped my children off at the doors of the school and sat in my car watching the wee children tumble about in a nearby park that I understood why it was so important to me to have my children witness the day's events by my side.

As I watched the little children bundled up like abominable snowmen laugh and chase one another around with the frenzied energy of the young I caught myself imagining what young Obama himself must have been like as a small child. 

Once, not that long ago, he himself must have chased little children around in a game of tag or tried climbing the monkey bars to hang upside down or hurled himself up to the sky while pumping a swing for all it's worth.

Once, not that long ago, he was not much different than any other child covered in dirt and sporting a grin full of awkward size gangly adult teeth as he laughed and played.

His parents had huge dreams and hopes for their children, like most parents do, but did they know they were raising the future hope of America? Did his grandmother know her grandson was destined not only for greatness but to be voted the future leader of United States?

I watched the myriad of children running and laughing like a pack of lunatics who had just escaped from the asylum and I marveled at how each and every child out on that playground has the opportunity to morph into greatness. Some children's opportunities will be greater and more frequent than others but for right now, nothing is impossible for them if they believe and if they have someone behind them who believes in them and for them. 

Somewhere out there, a school teacher is teaching the world's next great hope and may not even know it.

Somewhere out there, a parent is raising a man or a woman who will change the world with their passion and their intelligence and the choices they make.

As I put my car in gear and slowly drove away from the playground before some eagle eyed mother wondered who the pervert in the idling car was and called the cops on me, I wondered about my own children and who they could become, who they will become.

Watching President Obama being sworn to the highest office a man can serve for his country with his wife and children by his side reminded me of something that had started to fade around the edges. Something I once knew instinctively but had let time and circumstances erode.

Anything is possible. The future is fluid, determined only by the choices a person makes. Circumstances and hardships can be overcome with a combination of hard work and inspiration.

I want, need to be that inspiration for my children. I want the choices I make as a parent, as a person, as Tanis, to inspire my children to reach for their own destiny of greatness, whatever that may be.

I want my children to know I have never shied away from making hard choices in my pursuit to do what I feel is right for myself, for my family and for the world around us.

I want my children to know that I believe in them. I believe they will succeed in the choices they make. I want, need my children to believe in themselves. To see a future in the world where barriers like socioeconomic backgrounds, race and sexual preferences won't hinder the pursuit of their goals. I want my children to know that if they choose to, they can shine.

And I will always be there to polish them and propel them forwards when they need a little boost.

President Barack Obama reminded me of this yesterday as he idealized his own dreams, stepped forward in his own future and rose above the challenges of his past. 

Yesterday, America reminded me, a Canadian woman, to hope and gave me grace to persevere in pursuit of my own goals and to strengthen the foundation for my children's future paths.

As I slowly drove down the snow covered, unplowed streets of a faraway, insignificant rural Albertan town, I thought of all the children out there and the power of their futures just waiting for them to reach for it.

There are children all over this world destined for greatness. 

Yours and mine.

Thank you America for reminding me of this.