I don't know how it started, but the 15 minutes I spent hanging out with our middle school cooking class this afternoon became almost entirely a conversation about politics (well, I'm not so sure if it was a conversation, or just a sporadic rant about politics...).
Actually, I think it began with an innocent, "Miss, who are you voting for?" But before I could get any response out - which, would not have been revealing who I was voting for... I just don't think I was in the position to be sharing that with our 8th graders just yet - I was interjected with another girl's comment, that went something like this...
"Oh! Is it Romney? Because if it is then you hate Mexicans."
And before I had time to even think to myself, "Wait... wha...?" another girl interjected with their expertise opinion about Obama's sin of approving of same-sex marriage and another girl with her fact of Romney's hatred of poor people.
When I finally was able to follow up with the comment, the girl continued, "Yeah, if Romney is president he is going to send all of the Mexicans back to Mexico and they won't be able to come back. Miss, my family is Mexican and they can't go back and leave me!"
What a bold, inaccurate (well, hopefully), yet honest statement of concern. These girls, at 13 years old, are already finding the relevance of the election to their own lives... and that makes me proud a little. This connection even made me uncomfortably chuckle when another girl said, "Yeah, Miss, don't vote for Romney - he's going to take away food stamps and then how am I gonna get my Cheetos?!"
One girl was concerned about her family, another about her Cheetos... well, at least they see the pertinence of the issues to their own lives.
I was moved by their small, yet substantial, and still highly biased and naive opinions; yet frustrated with and confused about their 13-year-old selves jumping to conclusions not only about the candidates but also about my choice in candidate Which, by the way, I never revealed to them...but by the end of the "conversation," they had their minds made up about who I voted for, even though it was inaccurate.