Today I dropped Elli off at school and began wandering towards home. As I left her classroom the opening chords of O Canada started playing and I had the choice of either standing in the hallway respectfully or continuing on my way home. Normally when I am walking with Elli in the school I stop for O Canada but this time I didn't bother and moved a little quicker to get out of the school. I shouldn't, of course, be worried about any consequences for this little bit of rebellion but nonetheless I couldn't help but look into classrooms to see if people were watching me disrespect my nation's anthem. A hint of nervousness preyed on the edge of my mind telling me that I ought to feel guilty. I got downstairs and found a couple of parents with their children standing still and faced the dilemma of either jetting past them, continuing my sacrilege, or stopping right there and demonstrating that I will respect the song... when somebody is watching. I would rather be a troublemaker than a hypocrite though so onward I went leaving the obedient folks at their posts.
It all feels a bit ridiculous. I am an adult. There is no reason whatever that I should be worried about being caught walking during O Canada and yet my brain constantly informs me in dire, conspiratorial whispers that I am doing SOMETHING BAD and I will get caught and DIRE CONSEQUENCES will ensue. I stop for O Canada when I have Elli in tow because I know she is well trained to respect the song and I don't want to cause trouble for her teachers; I try to present the front of obeying the rules as much as possible for their sake. I do have reasons for disliking O Canada: It references sons without mentioning daughters and has a plea to God, which might not seem like much but the song only has 7 lines!
I am really not much for patriotism in general. Nonetheless O Canada does have some emotional impact on me when I hear it; despite my dislike of the lyrics something very powerful within me recognizes that tune and associates it with home and security in a powerful way. It is a bizarre sort of thing to fight with myself about whether or not to respect a song that affects me so while offending me at the same time. These are the sorts of conversations I really look forward to having with Elli though because so many of the people in her life try to teach her the right way to do things instead of teaching her that life is complicated and that she is going to have to think for herself. School lessons are very black and white most of the time and talking about the choice to respect the national anthem is something that is not so clear cut; just like most of the really hard decisions in life there are good arguments on both sides.