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June 2, 2011

I Pwedge Awwegiance (An M-Day Week Tribute)

I had a fantasy as a child that all my toys were really alive and would start interacting when I wasn’t around. Then, as a teenager, I saw Toy Story and wanted to sue Pixar for, like, a lot of money. For like, I don’t know, a thousand dollars.

There was a reason that movie was great. It tapped into the truth every girl felt deep inside — that her Barbie really did contain a little lady-soul. And that she had another name all her own, not “Barbie”— something exotic and maybe even a little epic, like “Lhehra,” and maybe she would share it with me someday if I treated her well. If I did not leave her to be gnawed by the riff-raff.

But like Sid, I would have jumped out of my braces had she actually spoken. 

Except it did happen. Last Monday.

I was applying some version of “casual Julie” makeup in the bathroom when Gordon says, “You gotta HEAR this.” In walks Drew with a grin unfurling across his face. 

“Say it,” said Gordon.

Drew says: “I pwedge awwegiance to the fwag of the United States of Amewica. And to the depublic, for which it stands, one nation, unda God, indivisiboh, withwibby and justice for all.”

Lhehra had broken her silence.

There are some things you need to know about my three-and-a-half-year-old to absorb the full impact:

  1. I have never even heard him sing a complete song before.
  2. He speaks in 5 word sentences. The words don’t always go together. Sometimes they’re not really English.
  3. The biggest word (I thought) he knows is macawoniandcheese.

The words were still ringing in the air like Narnian forest bells as I pranced over to hug my boy. I was so proud. Proud of my little patriot!

I tried to get him to perform for my mom a couple of days later. He started it, barely moving his lips, whispering without really whispering at all… “I pwedge al….”

After I returned a few hours later, my mother informed me he finally managed to recite the whole thing from underneath the slide at the park where no one could see him.

Same thing with my mother-in-law: he would only recite it for her with his head stuck under the table at the Food Court, down with the fallen rice from our Panda Express combo platters.

If there’s one thing my son and I don’t have in common, it’s that he doesn’t need to be the center of attention. I wonder what that kind of serenity is like.

And while he may not be a performer, Drew reminded me of something important that day: he is, in fact, an American. It’s funny, of COURSE he is. He has a combination of Irish and Lebanese blood — can you imagine how militant his platelets must be? — and this makes him quintessentially American, like when I was a kid and would combine Dr. Pepper and Fanta at CiCis. On the one side of the family tree, his great-great grandfather Sam emigrated from a little village in Lebanon 30 miles outside of Beirut. On the other side, Drew’s great-grandfather Eric crossed the Atlantic from Carrickfergus, Ireland in 1948 aboard the Queen Mary.

Both started out with nothing but made a life and a family. All that marrying/working/striving/dreaming/struggling and hoping percolated down through the years and generations, and now I am awakened every morning by a little boy with gorgeous olive skin and big Irish eyes. I can’t wait to tell Drew the story of his family someday. I’m grateful to live in a country where that kind of story is possible.

If someone you love has served in our armed forces or even given their life for our freedom, I just want you to know my family and I are deeply grateful this Memorial Day week.

 (For more from Julie, visit her blog at  






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