A Big Freaking Deal

     This is my deeply Sleeping Beauty at about 11:15 this morning.  She is cuddled with a box of pastries from our favorite big city bakery, plugged into her i-pod and snoozing away.  He had dragged her out of bed at 5:30 in order to shower and dress so we could leave at 6:30 for the big city.  He tried to drag me out of bed even earlier and wasn’t so successful.  We had an 8:30 appointment and had given ourselves some time for traffic tangles.  He was frantically trying to stay on ‘schedule.’ .  But we were in the car by 6:45 and on the road by 6:55 am.  We got there on time.  In fact, we were even a bit early.

We were at the office of the United States Naturalization, Citizenship and Immigration Service.    We had an appointment for the Princess’ citizenship interview.

We had been here before.  Well, not at this particular office…..which is new and shiny and kind of intimidating. 

Thirteen years ago we stood in the office of the same immigration service – except at a satellite office several hours drive away – for the same reason with a three year old Prince.  He was cute and cuddly in a special red, white and blue sweater his Non had made for the occasion.  His appointment was all about ME answering questions and signing pictures and holding my hand up and pledging.  He  had no clue what was happening.  He was just busy checking things out and successfully charming every single person he met.

I have pictures to prove it.

I also have a very small  collection of letters for him.  One night – months before the big day – I put together a note explaining that he was three and that he was going to be a new citizen and that I wanted him to have something that would help him understand why that was such a big deal.  I sent it to every possible celebrity that I could think of.  Spielberg, Lucas, Oprah, Rosie, Albom and Clinton to name just a few.  There were  lots from every walk of life.

And his ‘collection’ consists of an autographed picture from former president Jimmy Carter, a beautifully written letter (and Crystal Cathedral tracts) from Robert Schuller, and note from actor Jimmy Stewart’s secretary saying that she was sure he would have wanted to write something but he was very ill at that time ( he died shortly after) and an exquisite letter from Eric Smith.  Smith is a local newscaster who was happily familiar to Prince because HE is the one who announced all the school snow days for our area.  Snow Days were exciting even then.   It meant staying home from daycare with Mom.

I am not sure what the citizenship thing really means to him.  I think – like many of us – he tends to take our freedoms and our rights and our responsibilities for granted.  And so does she.


They learned all about the Bill of Rights and a smidgen of American history in school.  They stand at attention and know the Pledge of Allegiance by heart.  I am not so sure about The Star Spangled Banner.  They obey the traffic laws and the safety rules and respect everything about the officers in the cars with the flashing lights on top.  They even know about courtrooms and judges (okay…so I dragged them along on a ‘field trip’ when I had to appear in court for a traffic ticket) and where to go to pay a parking fine.  The interview was very serious and very intimidating.  And we have to go back in a month for a Citizenship swearing in ceremony.  A serious oath to be spoken and flags to be waved.

But Citizenship and the freedoms we enjoy are so much more than all of that.  I need to figure out a way to explain it to her.  To make it real.

This is the kid that learned to count with the flags we saw flying everywhere after 9/11 after all.  She was in Kindergarten at the time and there were 177  flags along the route from our house to her school.

‘What’s the big, freaking deal?’ she muttered on the way home this morning before snuggling down in the back seat with the pastry box and the i-pod….and her sweet, sweet dreams of  being well fed, safe…..and free.

I am not sure what to tell her.

What IS the big, freaking deal?

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2 Comments on “A Big Freaking Deal”

  1. Nancy Walker Says:

    Dear Nina,
    What a journey your life has taken since we left Tuva in October of 2000!
    The Declaration of Independence is an extremely important document laying out the basic freedoms- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These freedoms cannot be taken away from you.
    As you travel throughout the world in the future, you will realize the meaning of this infamous document.
    May you live out your dreams,
    In God we trust,
    The Walkers –Martin, Nancy, Megan, Joshua & Callie(your Tuvan friends)

  2. […] the way home from that interview, princess was full of questions about what the big deal was.  What did this all mean?  So I began a quest to find out myself.  I asked friends, family, […]

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