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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dual Citizens?

Daily, with diligence if not enthusiasm, my children pledge allegiance to the Republic of Witchistan.

Mind you, they also pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

They do not seem to be bothered by--or even really to notice--the potential conflict of pledging allegiance to two nations simultaneously.

I would say that perhaps they've reconciled this in their own minds thanks to the whole "one nation, under God" bit. But I'm pretty sure that they haven't thought this through that thoroughly.

Or even really at all.

While it's funny to hear a five-year-old solemnly repeating this pledge over and over in your bed in the dark of the early morning (where "funny" = a better way to wake up than being poked in the ribs by the tiny-but-extraordinarily-pokey toes of the same five-year-old), it also makes you stop and think.

Actually, it made her stop and think. "What's justice?" she asked me this morning. I explained it meant fairness. "Oh," she said, murmuring her way through another rendition, "...with liverty and justice for all."

"Do you know what liBerty is?" I asked, emphasizing the B, so as to help remind her that we weren't talking about internal organs here.

"No," she replied, not really concerned at all.

"It means freedom," I said. "So, 'with liBerty and justice for all' means the country is supposed to have freedom and fairness for everyone."

She seemed unimpressed. Or at least, uninspired. I suppose it is difficult, at age five, growing up in a comfortable house and going to a good school where all the kids have their own desks and plenty of paper and the ones whose home breakfasts are scant or non-existent have a supplement from the school, to imagine a world in which freedom and fairness are NOT inalienable rights.

All the more reason, in my mind, for the teachers who are dutifully drumming this pledge into my kids' heads to do something to explain it to them. To give them a mini history lesson once a week. To explain why this pledge was written, why the flag is an important symbol.

At the very least, to explain to them that they do not, in fact, live in the Republic of Witchistan.


BusyDad said...

haha! It took me forever to get this. I was thinking was this a Harry Potter reference? Or a Halloween reference? Then I spoke the pledge of allegiance in my head and went "bingo!"

Of course, that is not the point of this post. The point is a lot deeper. But, you know, you're dealing with Jim here.

Mrs F with 4 said...

I confess that I, too thought it was about Hallowe'en... Then I couldn't stop sniggering when I worked it out (not North American...don't judge me). Though....I was trying NOT to remember teaching my spawn the English national anthem. "No, son, it's noble. NOBLE. Not no-balls". Particularly when referring to thenQueen.

MommyTime said...

I didn't even think of the Halloween confusion when I wrote this. It's just how they say the pledge...but now I'm wondering how many others are confused (not that I'm doing much to help them by writing you two back here!). Sorry, Jim.

I do love the "no balls," though, Mrs F. Brings to mind so many of the kids' mispronunciations over the years.

Rhea said...

OK, I don't deny it...I almost Googled "Witchistan." too funny.

Ann Imig said...

Oh, I didn't even get it until I read Jim's comment.

So cute.

Reminds me of Ramona Quimby's "Danzer Lee Light"

And yes, context is so important. I'm impressed with your quick description of liberty and justice as freedom and fairness. I'm always surprised how hard even simple words can be to define in terms my kids can understand.

Cheney Giordano said...

Ha, this is so funny. When I was a kid, I told a teacher that I wanted to do my country report on The Republic of Witchitstanz, and it took her forever to figure out what I was talking about, and she cracked up. I am still a bit embarrassed about that mistake, but it is more common than you think!


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