Published on January 27th, 2017 | by Kat Rohn1
Baba and the Babies March on the Capitol by E. KAT ROHN
“Is today the day we are going to tell the people to listen to us?”
“Yup kiddo, we’re going to the march.”
I packed the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into my bag alongside the camera and baby wipes. When you’re bringing two kids to a march you have to come prepared.
We had been talking about the Women’s March with our four-year-old son for the past week. Explaining the basics of a march weren’t all that hard, but inquisitive kid that he is, he wanted to know why we needed to march, why it was a women’s march, why some people were not being treated fairly or equally, and why the “government people” weren’t listening. Conversations about gender, sexism, equality, fairness, and identity are nothing new in our household, and something we’ve always included our children in where appropriate. And I was glad to be able to reference Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist to give at least some context for what marching and protesting might mean or look like. Still, I am not sure he really grasped what he was in for as we bundled up in preparation for hours spent outdoors in Minnesota in January.
An hour later we pulled into a parking ramp in Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul. I tucked our nine-month-old into the Tula, gathered up our supplies, helped the four year old out of his car seat and we all started off walking towards the starting point for the march.
“How much farther?”
“Not too far,” I reassured him, pointing towards a group of women waiting by a stoplight, “I think they’re going, too.”
“Yeah, but will there be any kids?”
“I’m sure there will be, we’ll just see when we get there.”
Fog shrouded St. Paul’s skyline. As we made our way into the midst of the gathering crowd in the parking lot serving as the staging area I pointed a finger out towards the distant rotunda of the capitol building.
“That’s where we’re marching to, kiddo.”
He looked off into the distance, “oooohhhh.”
We stood in the parking lot as more and more marchers gathered. The oldest circled around my feet and snacked on the provisions we brought with. The youngest was the recipient of many compliments from the crowd around us, but was more than a little skeptical of the growing throng of people. A few warm up talks and cheers later and it was 11am, the march was officially starting.
“Why aren’t we walking yet, baba?”
“Soon kiddo, there are a lot of people here.”
I glanced out over the heads of those in front of us, trying to gauge whether there was any movement at all. A heart shaped balloon drifted away into the distance overhead. The four-year-old shuffled his feet. The woman next to us offered the four-year-old a granola bar, which he eagerly accepted. We chatted with our neighbors about the respective distances we had traveled to arrive at the march, the warm (at least for Minnesota) January weather, and pointed out our favorite signs in the crowd.
Finally the sea of people began moving. The baby snored blissfully on my chest, and the four-year-old cheered, snacked on trail mix, stomped through puddles, and eagerly chanted along in fragments with the crowd: “Majority! Equality!” “Trump has got to go!” “This is what ‘mocracy looks like!”
When we reached the capitol grounds, I turned us back towards the parking ramp. I figured the younger members of the crew probably didn’t have the stamina (or interest) in listening to the speakers. But as we walked our way along the back of the crowd there were no complaints of sore feet or the cool damp weather, and just before he fell asleep on the ride home our oldest inquired “do you think we can march again?”
At four years and nine months of age respectively, our two sons may not grasp all of the concepts, history, or importance of the Women’s March. But they don’t need to yet. What’s important to me is that they were immersed in it. That they know that there are ways to take action and be heard on causes that are important. That they proudly stand up alongside women and any other group that faces discrimination and inequality. And most importantly that they learn the importance of listening, especially to those who do not always have power in our society.
I turned back to the inquiring face behind me.
“Yes, kiddo, we will.”