Once we arrived at the rally, we unfurled the poster, and our fellow protesters immediately started complimenting it and taking photos of it. I proudly told anyone who would listen that she made it all by herself. Though the kids did get bored after just a few minutes, we settled on a system that worked to keep us there a while longer: My wife or I would sit on a bench with the kids who wanted to sit, while the other one would venture into the crowd with one of the kids, if any wanted to join.
In this way, I made a couple of extended forays into the protest, each time with a child on my shoulders. We joined the chants and discussed the signs and sentiments we saw and heard around us. The conversations were in-depth and thoughtful, and touched on issues such as immigration and environmentalism, Trump’s tax returns, the legislative process, and impeachment, a word we saw on multiple signs. I explained why people were shouting “This is what democracy looks like!” while also diverting their attention away from signs that were inappropriate for them, featuring words and images I’d rather avoid explaining to my little ones.
Eventually, the kids ran out of gas, and we headed to nearby Hekscher Playground, in Central Park. Though only yards away from the rally, we could neither see nor hear it from there, and the kids dove right into the fun. I saw several other parents with protest signs tucked into their pockets or stuffed in their strollers. We weren’t the only ones multitasking—a little rallying, a little running around and climbing—on a beautiful spring-like day.
At home later that night, I asked the two older kids what they thought about the experience. Both said they were happy we went, and I tried to probe deeper, asking what it meant to them and why they were glad we went. “To stand up for our country,” the older one said. “To tell Trump to do the right thing,” the 6-year-old added. It was their own way of processing the day and what it all meant. I was grateful those were their takeaways—and for the opportunity to show them what democracy looks like.