January 20, 2009
Boy's Eye View
Mr. D looks considerably perkier in this picture than he did for much of the day today, which he spent here at home, fighting a cold. Bummer.
The upside, of course, was that we got to watch today's inaugural events together. Good deal.
Having been told that he would be able to see the new President take the oath of office with his classmates, Mr. D initially struggled to adjust to the change in plans. At 11:00 he looked at the clock above our television and wistfully said, "My friends are getting ready to go to lunch now." But for the most part we were happy to be together, and excited to see the famous peaceful transfer of power.
Mr. D thought that the first Mr. Bush and his wife looked like nice people. He was surprised to learn that a father and son had both been President, and quickly made the Clinton connection as well. "It helps to be in those families," he informed me. He was stunned -- almost to the point of not believing me -- when I told him that we haven't had a woman president yet. Once he did believe me, he just shook his head in a kind of "that's just pathetic" way.
The next thing that struck Mr. D as we watched the proceedings unfold was the image of Dick Cheney and Joe Biden getting into the same car. Mr. D had seen plenty of rancorous campaign exchanges, and was almost shocked to see George W. Bush and Barack Obama walk companionably towards their car. "They look like they're friends!" he exclaimed. He had previously wondered aloud about how hard it was going to be for Mr. Bush to leave the White House (somewhere along the line Mr. D learned that the resident of the White House has a personal chef on call, which for some reason seems like heaven on earth to him, even though I would argue that on days like today he already has a personal chef on call) (but I digress). We talked a little bit about post-game handshakes, and the fact that many countries are unable to take this level of sportsmanship for granted. He was suitably impressed.
Mr. D knew that the oath of office would be just a few words long (his school has been doing a good job of prepping the students, it seems). He was surprised and amazed to learn that Barack Obama was using the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used. He is very impressed with old things, especially because of his recent trip to the Met. (Spellcheck is giving me trouble over both Barack and Obama, by the way. Spellcheck needs to catch up.)
At one point during the parade, President Obama looked at his watch and the announcer made a comment about the event running behind schedule. Mr. D wanted to know what that meant (ah, youth!), and when I explained the concept he said, "So there could have been a few minutes of NO President!" He is such a little math head. Actually, I explained to him, the 20th amendment to our Constitution makes the transition time firm regardless of how well the inauguration is going according to plan. He seemed relieved.
He wondered about the soldiers passing the review stand, and seemed awed to learn that another name for President is Commander-in-Chief. He wanted to know if someone could be President if they were a kid ("the smartest kid ever"), and I explained that no, there are rules about who can be President, and that they include restrictions around age and place of birth. "Someone who was born in Australia can't be President? No matter how great they are? That's not FAIR!" he said. Then, a few moments later, "Wait, can someone who was born in Australia be the leader of Australia?" Yes, I said. "Oh, well, that's okay then, I guess."
There was a fair amount of power-envy -- Mr. D longs to live in the White House and order that chef around! -- to the point that he was even willing to trade places with Sasha Obama, although in his mind that meant he would then have to be a girl. Mr. D seemed to think this was an extremely bold and generous offer. (When I was growing up, Amy Carter was in the White House, and it makes me happy that Mr. D will be able to think "she's the same age as I am" about Sasha.)
He wanted to see a 3-D model of the White House, and was frustrated when he couldn't control the scale of all online maps the way he's seen me do on Google maps. I have a feeling that spending a little more time with the specs of "the Beast" will be on tomorrow's agenda.