The day after the election, I knew that when my daughter came home from school I would have to try, once and for all, to explain Trump’s victory to her. According to her principal’s e-mail, it had been discussed throughout the school day and had even been the subject of an assembly. But I was still at a loss. How could I explain what had happened without scaring her? As I saw it, millions of adults had done something very stupid on Election Day. There’s nothing more terrifying to a child than the idea that adults don’t know what they’re doing.
But then I thought, Maybe not. There’s a strong argument that there’s nothing more hilarious to a child than the notion of adults screwing up. The cliché of the bumbling sitcom dad, as well as every Kevin James movie ever made, relies on this principle. When kids see adults do something stupid, it makes them feel smarter and more secure about their own place in the world. Finally, I had something I could work with.
When my daughter came home, I sat her down at the kitchen table, gave her a Kit Kat from her hoard of Halloween candy, and offered this explanation of the election: “Imagine the stupidest thing you could ever do, like peeing on a stack of pancakes. Now, imagine that the United States is a stack of pancakes. Millions of grownups just peed on it.”