The 2010 Census
A brief departure from the usual – and a little social commentary to go with it. I filled out our census form yesterday. I love the census – I love everything about it. I love the fact that every 10 years, we all get to count. Not only are we counted, but we count. It should matter exactly how many people live in every home, in every town, in every state. It’s so odd to me that we don’t even know this basic information unless we mount an enormous and expensive effort to gather it – and only every 10 years!
I filled out my little boxes with such pride. It asked how many people live here and who we are. The last time I filled out a census, two of our four people didn’t even exist. How amazing. The two new people weren’t even born the last time and there was absolutely no way of knowing they were even coming. I suppose new people are created every day and while I didn’t actually create these two people, we are responsible for them and for getting them counted. The census form asked if the children are biological or adopted. At first I wondered what would happen if I lied and said they were biological. I wasn’t feeling particularly pathological about it, I just thought that I would see what it felt like to fake it. I answered honestly, but for a moment I felt like an outsider – a person who cannot create one’s own children. However, at the same time, I felt like a responsible American growing my family. There is a family where there once was none. Good work American citizen.
Interestingly enough, the directions say for you to count the number of people in your home, including babies. Are there people who don’t know how many people live in their homes without instituting a count? And, its ironic that we need to be reminded to count babies. Should they not count? If not, when should they begin to count? When they talk, when they walk, when they first yell at you and say you are a “bad mother?”
I filled out the census for my mother as well and equally profound to the fact that there are four people in my home, there is only one in hers. Only one person – it seemed so symbolic of all that is happening in her life. There is no more family where the once was one – only one person left.
I thought about all the people hiding in places, in homes, in shelters, illegally here and there. How do we count them and what on earth would urge them to stand out and be counted? I wouldn’t want anyone to count me if I were hiding from the law and on the lamb… However, as I ponder my duties as an elected official, I always want to know exactly how many people want or don’t want something. I need to know how many people need their trash collected and how many people ride the jitney. It is almost impossible to get a real count for anything even in idyllic small town USA. People just move too fast to be counted and there seems to be an odd secretive reflex in many people that I just don’t have.
I felt snubbed a bit by the census in that it only took me about 3 minutes to fill it out. I wanted it to take longer. I wanted them to ask me more questions. I wanted them to ask me what we eat for breakfast and what time my kids go to bed. I thought there are so many things about us that someone should want to know but didn’t ask. Isn’t it strange that no one asks anything? Do four people in my little home automatically equal four people in a home somewhere else. Shouldn’t they want to know that while we are just four people, we should be given extra credit for our unique qualities? I especially feel like Max should get counted as more than one person as it truly takes a village ( I know, overused metaphor…boring!) just to get the kid out the door everyday.
That’s it… I will call the Census Czar and ask for a re-count!