Tonight for dinner we had corn and hot dogs in celebration of the 4th of July, America Day. It’s actually among one of my favourite days of the year as it’s a day which celebrates My Exquisite Wife’s nation and all that they’ve given to the world. A great many people are likely to criticise the US for much and ask what they’ve given the world, but how about mass production, electric light, the internet, Netflix and Mickey Mouse? Interesting fact I found out about that last one is that Mickey Mouse was actually voiced by a Scot for about 40 years.
Regular readers of this blog (generally there are more of them than regular writers of this blog as I’ve been sort of absent since March) will be aware of how often the posts are about My Exquisite Wife – who is American, and a logical topic of discussion today. But she’s not the topic of discussion today. Instead, I’m talking about my baby. A wee girl currently dressed like the American flag, though that may be against the flag code as you’re not supposed to display it in places where it might get dirty (Edit: it did get dirty and we called some Boy Scouts to bury her outfit). Oh well, it’s one of the most reproduced images on the planet and a lot of the planet is not clean enough for a flag of ideals.
That’s the thing about America, it’s all ideals. Ideals that much of the country’s history has failed to live up to, but ideals which they keep striving towards in the understanding that if they ever manage 80% of them they will truly be the greatest country going. America represents a dream, a longing for something not of the Old World which was all dirt and war and feudalism. It was the dream of a new world that could be cleaner, more peaceful, and an ideal place for colonies that would grow spices and tobacco and such. Okay, so not all the ideals were perfect.
Very important considerations about America and her independence need to be had around slavery and the impact of the large landowners supporting the new state. Freedom for some, democracy for some, tiny American flags for everyone. But America today is at a turning point. People in America are increasingly coming to grips with their history, realising it happened, doing their best to fix it as far as possible, and moving forward as fast as possible. If there’s one absolutely defining feature of Americans it is their desire to move as quickly as possible. After all, they have a long way to go.
Raising a Small American
As it turns out, half-Scottish half-American babies are an interesting sort. She’s loud, like her mother, she’s ambitious, like me, she likes to nap sometimes, like her mother, and she doesn’t like to sleep at night but is very good when she’s finally down, like me. Our baby likes her food, like the pair of us. She quite likes her meat and even seems fairly a big fan of haggis (she’s 9-months and many think that’s too young to do meat but modern childcare practitioners tend to think it’s fine to introduce meat at 6-months and might even be quite good as it’s at that stage that many babies need a lot more iron and protein, and meat is dense in both these nutrients and in ways which is more easily accessible to the human body than vegetables). She has the energy of an American and the passion of a Scot.
Then again, she may just be a baby who I’m projecting all of these traits onto. It’s hard to guess at the potential virtues and vices of a 9-month old. Her personality is definitely far more developed than it was the last time I wrote about her but anything I could say about her would be heavily influenced by both the type of person I’d like her to grow up to be plus unconscious gender biases. Sort of like how the exact same behaviour in a boy might be called anger and in a girl stroppyness. All I can say for sure is that she’s fairly active, enjoys climbing instead of sleeping, appears to like people well enough, and has started to think the dog is hilarious. A fine piece of clay for me to mould into the greatest person who ever lived, who obviously would be half-American and half-Scottish.
More interesting is how we’re going to raise her to recognise and appreciate all sides of her nationalities. There’s lots of opportunity for American culture in Scotland because most cultural production in the English-speaking world is American. It may be actually more difficult to find distinctively Scottish books, films and music. Though there is a great culture for storytelling in Scotland and a rich literature going back a thousand years, much of that literature does not feature in education curricula. Unless there’s been a major change since I was young, most of the books are in English rather than Scots and often by writers who have set their works in England rather than Scotland. I’ve nothing against England as a concept but how can you raise someone to understand their own country if most of the stuff they’re reading is about somewhere else? There’s a reason the Scottish accent has been in decline, reducing in rhoticity (the rolled r). We’re being impact by the fact that it’s all BBC Received Pronunciation. It can have deleterious effects on the poor bairns. It can make you feel even smaller to not feel recognised anywhere. Also, apparently it makes some kids snort before speaking. We’re going to need to be very on our guard to make sure she gets enough Scottish input. This will be heavily assisted by the fact my kid book reading voice is so much broader than my regular conversation voice.
You should hear my Dr. Seuss readings.
An advantage she is definitely going to have is the fact both her mummy and daddy really dig each others cultures. After all, My Exquisite Wife lived here for a while even before she met me because she wanted to see what we’re all about. I’ve been fascinate by the American mindset probably ever since I read Sylvia Plath as it was completely different from any exposure I’d had to Americans before. Though she is a really sad girl so I hope and pray my baby grows up almost nothing like her. As well as this, my baby is the inheritor of a great Scottish-American tradition. 35 presidents have had Scottish ancestry, including Barack Obama who apparently might be related to King William the Lion of Scotland. Scots are all over American history, from the Independence to the Constitution. Both sides of the US Civil War, the Confederate flag is a Saltire for that reason, but also the Battle Hymn of the Republic has Scottish influences as it was inspired by a soldier’s song started as a joke over a Scottish soldier named John Brown. The influence is not even just from Scotland to America, a great many Americans have made Scotland their home and greatly improved our country. Sadly, they are a lot less reported on so in my research I haven’t yet found them, but if you want a laugh check out this list of all the notable Americans with even a hint of Scottishness on their Wikipedia page.
With our careful piloting, the wee baby is going to grow up to love 4th of July like her mummy because that’s a day about her country, but hopefully also like her daddy, who knows it is not his country but who can appreciate the awesome contributions the Americans have made to this planet of Earth.
The writer of this piece finds this a hot, sweaty Summer.