"I is a yucky boy."
"Yes, you ARE a lucky boy. You live in America! It took a lot of hard work to make America our country. And do you know what? Today is America's birthday!"
"She is not here? Mare-ka is not here today."
"Well sweetie, America isn't a person, it's the place where we live. We live in America. We love America, that's why we have a special party and light our sparklers."
"It's Mare-ka's happy burf-day!"
Not sure how else I could have explained the idea of country or the 4th of July to my two-and-a-half year old. But thinking about it now, I don't know that I needed to.
Much of what shapes my love of America is centered around childhood memories like these: eating watermelon, lighting sparklers, smelling food on the grill, climbing trees, and catching fire flies. I never realized how these memories are inseparable from the freedom, peace, and safety we enjoy America.
Just like people, America isn't perfect and there's always more work to do. I hope my boy will learn that he can make a difference. He can make our world an even better place. His ideas and dreams matter. And they can come true...in part, because he is an American.