“What does it mean to stand on guard for thee?” Kat, my six year old, asked me recently.
The teachers at her school had been relentlessly preparing the kids for a spirit day assembly – which I missed – twice.
“Don’t you remember anything anymore, Mom?” was the stinging rebuke I took for that.
But getting back to Canada, the schools here do an excellent job of laying the Canadian pride groundwork at the elementary level, I am guessing the superiority complex and intense disdain for Americans will come during the upper grade levels.
Kat and her classmates, in addition to learning songs designed to promote classroom harmony and reduce bullying beyond what is deemed reasonable for character building purposes, have also been learning the national anthem. As a song, it is only slightly less torturous to sing than the Star Spangled Banner.
“It means that we would defend Canada from its enemies.”
A very good question because because as U.S. citizens, defending Canada could be a conflict of interests.
In the minds of many Canadians the most likely scenario for needing to defend Canada will come when America runs out of clean water and can’t afford to buy oil on the world market anymore. Plenty of both those natural resources up here and toss in the precarious claim to the Northwest Passage makes us a prime target for a revival of the old American standby “manifest destiny”, which simply means,
“We need it. We can take it from you. So we will.”
I know this offends those in the lower 48. We like to think of ourselves as good neighbors. We’ve also deluded ourselves into believing that our Canadian brethren our like little siblings who are enthralled by us and wish to be us. Really couldn’t be farther from the truth. This though is a digression for another day.
Kat is a U.S. citizen and always will be. And I, a U.S. citizen as well, am standing idly by while she is being assimilated in a quasi Borg-like manner. I mean every day she is less and less an American. In a bit more than two years from now, she will have spent exactly half her life in both countries with the latter being far more formative from a conscious standpoint. It started with toques and it will end with a teenager who pronounces her vowels differently and mocks me in French.
I think about my status, and hers, a lot because I love Canada. I can’t imagine living in the United States full time again – though I would never say never . And we went through a lot to gain our residency. I learned an appreciation for immigrants that quite a few of my fellow Americans could stand to acquire and, as a result, I am more than a little proud of my new country and myself. It is one thing to grow up unquestioning in one’s homeland and something altogether different to make a discerning choice about where you will live and raise your children and to adopt a worldview that is often at odds with what you were taught.
Dual citizenship isn’t on the table but it is a question for a day that is not as far off as it seems. And what will I do when it arrives? There are plenty of people who are legally tied to more than one country. It’s not as if it’s never done. But I know it’s frowned upon by my government though not actively discouraged and for some reason that makes me question the ideas of my former home even more.
Kat will someday be more Canadian than anything else. Her citizenship will be reduced to a passport she will never remember to renew periodically unless I remind her. And me? I can’t answer that because I don’t know. When asked anymore about where I am from, I always reply,
“I’m from Canada.”
This was an original 50 Something Moms piece.