Originally published in the newspaper, Hill Rag, November 2008.

Since the birth of our nation, American parents have dreamed of a better, more auspicious future for their children and in a patchwork country of immigrants the ultimate patriotic symbol of success has always been the same: “You can be anything when you grow up.  Even President of the United States!”

But does this offer come with a responsibility to make that dream possible?  Obviously wanting it, believing it, is not enough.  In order for your child to have a real shot at Commander-in-Chief, there must be some presidential parenting happening in your house.  Or you may be your child’s biggest obstacle in the road to the White House.

I think we can agree that Barack Obama’s mother didn’t have her eye on the Presidential Seal when she signed him up for Muslim daycare in Jakarta.  I mean, did she even check to see if they were accredited?

On top of peanut butter, DEET, and child snatchers I now find myself concerned about The Boy’s political future.  Should I be starting a grassroots campaign now? (Note to self: ask daycare when The Boy becomes eligible to run for student government.  Also, check syllabus for extreme radicalism of any sort.)
As we ramp up to the election I’ve taken a step back and asked myself if I’m raising The Boy to exhibit behavior becoming to a President.  Considering that The Husband and I have money riding on which unprintable word will punctuate The Boy’s first sentence, that I get my news from The Daily Show, and approach violent hostility when anyone mistakes The Boy for a girl, I would have to say no.  Not so much.

Whether you believe parental influence comes from nature or nurture, The Boy’s crazy mother is not an asset.  Guy Raised by Crazy Mother = Loose Cannon with access to The Button.

The Boy hasn’t even dusted off Youth and Government yet, and my life choices are already endangering his political trajectory.  Should The Boy decide to run for office he’ll have to chain me in the attic like Mr. Rochester’s crazy wife; assign handlers to feed and bathe me, and ensure I never see the news, because if my maternal fury were incited I’d go all nutty like Dumbo’s mom and my handler’s ropes and cages would be futile as I sought to avenge his honor.  Down would go the Big Top.

Over the past year we’ve flipped through the papers, perused the inflammatory emails, and surfed through news reports and invasive exposes:

“She’s an arms-selling hermaphrodite with a secret clubfoot, a meth lab and communist sympathies!”

“He’s a kitten-torturing cannibal with a hunger for world domination and he drives an SUV!”

“He voted in favor of mandatory sex licenses and uterine registration for all Americans intending to breed!”

“If elected President, her first order of business will be to sell Ohio to the Scientologists and coronate TomKat King and Queen!”

As I sift through all the freshly raked muck, the single thought that eats at my heart and twists my intestines is this: What if that were The Boy.  What if, one day, in his big, bright future, he gets the honor of being vetted by the same septic social system?

All this digging into his flaws and foibles and felonies, for an arduous, thankless job that will make at least 45 percent of America hate him.  And from an admittedly selfish perspective, I don’t want to sit by and watch people tear apart my baby, or hear unsolicited feedback on how I could’ve been a better presidential parent.

I still wish great things for The Boy and will strive to infuse him with the same sense of optimistic, stick-to-it-ive-ness and confidence that has transformed the meek and humble into millionaires and humanitarians.

Just the other night The Boy and I had our first important talk about career goals.  Over a jar of sweet potato chicken, I extolled to him the merits of being an elected official, and the importance of serving our brothers and sisters in humanity.  I did close with a hard sell on the emotional, mental and, possibly even physical, damage that can be done to the presidentially afflicted.  As I wiped away the orange mush smeared across his cheek, I cupped his sweet face in my hands I told him, “You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.  Anything.  Except President.”