Every election season we read all about the polls being taken on the candidates and issues. And we all stop answering our phones so as to avoid being polled. I have a little advice for the pollsters: If you want to get accurate information for your polls, hang up the phones and come to a swim practice.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Coach and me to realize that age-group swimmers, and even most college-age swimmers, are mirrors (and mouthpieces) for their parents’ political opinions and voting activities. You are not going to find many seven-year-olds who vote differently than their parents. If they could vote. Which they usually think they can. And you get to hear about it because a lot of talking goes on in a swim practice.
I can’t tell you the number of times Mr. Coach has come home and said, “You’re not going to believe who’s a Democrat.”
We live in a very politically conservative part of the world, so it’s always a surprise when you find out that someone’s a Democrat, although usually they’re a closet Democrat. Well, until their kid tells everyone in her lane.
As for politically extreme households, a really solid indicator of that is when a grade schooler knows about various issues on the ballot. Your middle-of-the-road households, whether Democrat or Republican, tend not to have strong opinions, at least not that they’re discussing in front of the children, about issues like casinos, smoking or even state-constitution amendments to beef up farming regulations. But your households that would say they “strongly disagree” or “strongly agree” about a ballot question do discuss these things in front of the children, and little Windchime and Thatcher will be more than happy to tell the Level 3 Mudskippers exactly how to vote on those issues.
I tell you all this not to make you more nervous about sending your kids off to swim practice. You’ve got enough to worry about with the bat hangs and other breath-holding drills. But if there are any hot political topics that you don’t want the other families on the team to know your opinions about, then you might want to be careful about discussing them in front of the kids.
Oh, and don’t worry, Mrs. Postlethwaite, about the Level 2 Lungfish knowing what your credit rating is. We had the coach explain it was just your age in dog years.