Can we choose “none of the above”?

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Dear Kids,

You asked me the other day what I thought of the stuff we see on the news about the presidential race. As someone who makes a living with words, this is hard for me to say: I just don’t know. This time around, the words fail me.

I imagine this must be how you guys feel when you’re in school and you have to take a hard test. You know how sometimes you get a test question that has multiple choices, but none of them seem quite right? Option A doesn’t really fit and Option B sounds crazy, so you go with Option C, which says “none of the above.” On tests, sometimes “none of the above” is the right answer. The teacher includes that type of question to make sure you’re not easily fooled by misleading standardized test 2options.

The problem for grown-ups right now is that we have no Option C, even though there are plenty of us who would circle that one if we could.

What’s worse is that, every time we watch the news, I wonder if this whole thing is a trick question and there really is no right answer. Part of me keeps waiting for someone to interrupt the news broadcast and say, “Gotcha! We were just kidding!” Because I’d feel better if this election cycle was just a bad practical joke that went on too long.

I also feel ashamed because you kids probably thought grown-ups were emotionally mature, thoughtful people who don’t lower themselves to the kind of jerky behavior you see on playgrounds or in school cafeterias. We were supposed to be above all of that, having outgrown it sometime after middle school.

But now you’re old enough to watch the news, and you see that even the people applying for the most important job in the nation do bone-headed, ugly things almost daily. I wouldn’t blame you for feeling profoundly disappointed. I feel it, too.

Part of me wishes this whole thing was just some dumb reality show. If it were, we could shake our heads, roll our eyes and change the channel. It wouldn’t have any real bearing on our lives. What scares me most is how much it really does matter.

You know what’s crazy? We mothers are supposed to want our kids to aspire to be President one day. But I don’t know if I’d even want that life for you. The path to get there seems so crowded with pain, lies, sabotage and outright treachery. I wish I didn’t feel that way. I wish there was someone in the race who made public service look like the inspiring, selfless, honorable act that it is.

I’m trying not to be so disillusioned about it. As I told you the other day, the best thing we can do is pray about it – pray that the right person comes into power and that he or she is guided by God.

I do know one thing. Being your mother will ultimately help me decide what to do when it’s time to vote. If a candidate behaves in a way that makes me cringe and pray that my children never act that way, the decision gets easier. I can’t stomach the thought of someone fundamentally unkind being the leader of the free world.

This is a hard question, kids. Some are calling it the “best of two bad choices.” All I know for sure is that a lot of us are still wishing, hoping and praying for an Option C.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

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