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My friends who know my daughter and have had conversations with her call her an old soul.  At times, I feel like I am having a discussion with a 40-year old, not a 10-year old.

At dinner recently, she claimed that being a kid was hard because she is not allowed to make the "big choices" in her life.  When asked by her dad what these "big choices" are, she responded that she would like to vote.

 Yes, vote.

For some of us, the opportunity to vote causes some apprehension.  I have always made it a policy not to discuss who I voted for and am very reluctant to discuss politics with anyone.

I thought about this comment for a couple of days, mulling over how I could include her in this year's Presidential Election process.  After much consideration, I offered my vote to her, on the condition that she needs to watch the debates and research the candidates (with our help).  I wanted her to make an educated decision and explain to me why she wants to vote for the candidate she chooses.

After presenting her with this proposition, she looked at me blankly and said, "That's okay Mommy, you can keep your vote."  She went on to explain that she does not understand many of the topics discussed by the candidates (what she hears from the nightly news).  I said, "See that is why you need to be 18 to vote.  It is not an arbitrary age that was chosen."  It was at that point she realized that some decisions she was not ready to make.

Recently, an opportunity to take a trip to Arizona presented itself to my family.  It just so happens that the trip falls during the week that my daughter is supposed to participate in her school's state testing, the NJ ASK.  If she were to miss this week, she would be required to make up the tests the following week, essentially missing two weeks' worth of instruction.  I had traded a few e-mails with her teacher to find out if this would be too difficult for my daughter to manage should we decide to take this trip.

I fully believe that my daughter would be able to catch up with her schoolwork and not have her grades suffer.  My husband was a bit skeptical, but her teacher said they would all do everything they can to help her.  We were still undecided.

It was then that I realized we should present our daughter with the situation and let her help us make the decision.  I explained it all to her and discussed the positives and the negatives of missing that week.  She talked it through with me, shed a few tears, but came to a very mature decision that we should not take the trip.

I was a very proud momma at that point.  She had made a very hard, but mature choice.  I think she was even a bit proud of herself, despite the feeling that she was going to miss a special trip.

I guess Arizona will just have to wait for a visit from the D'Amico family.

by resident writer Gwen D'Amico 


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