So as of a few days ago, my baby is 8 years old. We celebrated by touring a Liberty Ship in the San Francisco Harbor. My Canadian child knows this much about Americans: one salutes the flag.
"Mommy, why is a salute hitting your eyebrow with the side of your hand?"
I explained to him about the whole Roman thing, demonstrating that your right hand is free of weapons, and that it's also a mark of respect. One ought to stand about three feet from the superior being addressed and maintain an upright posture.
So for the next three hours, I am tailed at three feet by a small boy in a white sailor's hat, barking orders to himself, his hand glued to his new sailor's cap, marching around as though his life depended upon the force with which his sneakers hit the ground.
The volunteers aboard the Jeremiah O'Brien were duly impressed. The man running the gift shop made hima birthday present, as did the sage 91-year-old Anglican vicar who sailed the O'Brien to Normandy and back twice, some 50 years apart. Kid was told by this wise old man to listen to his mother and not to put anything in his body that he didn't know for sure would make him healthier and stronger. The chocolate chip cookie in his hand hit the dust. The long-held dream of cotton candy did the same.
So now I'm parenting an 8-year-old Canadian health-nut who wants to be an American navy officer when he grows up, and who has already memorized the lines to "Anchors Aweigh." He also criticized my consumption of chips, beer, and guacamole, which is completely irritating.
Next year I'm taking him to a law office so he can check out the Hugo Boss suits and the BlackBerries. It's either Freedome 85 or Nudge Kid into Extremely Lucrative Line of Work. Although it will, I confess, be hard to give up the salute. I quite like the salute.