Not Jerusalem*

[Pre-holiday]

We drive home after school.
“I love bananas. I love bananas. I love bananas,” he chants in the seat directly behind mine.  This is his latest quote.  He has quoted it continuously for the last 16 minutes, the minutes, short ones, that it has taken us to get from his class room door , to the car.  At least it is truthful, as bananas are one of his seventeen foods.  [translation = neophobic.]
“Are we going to my playdate?” she shouts over the din.
“Are we going to my playdate?” echoes her other brother.  She sits between the two of them, sandwiched.
“I love bananas. I love bananas. I love bananas,” he continues.
“Mom, can you make him shut up, I can’t think straight!”
“Think straight!” echoes the other.
“MOM!” she bellows, “DO SOMETHING!”
“DO SOMETHING!” he echoes.
I focus on driving safely from point A to point B.  [translation = and people moan about cell phone users!]
He changes his tune without warning or preamble, “ oooo wooo, déjà vu! oooo wooo, déjà vu!  oooo wooo, déjà vu!”
“Déjà vu!” echoes the other one.
“What is wrong with you two!  Are you bein ghosts or summat!”  I silently decide that my psyche is happier with the ‘banana’ ditty, but I say nothing as I  pull up to the lights.  We idle at the traffic stop.   [translation = traffic lights on red]  A car is next to us, all stars and stripes.  [translation = patriotic]  I debate whether turning the radio on will make things better or worse?  [translation = louder or quieter]
“Oooo wooo, déjà vu! oooo wooo, déjà vu!  oooo wooo, déjà vu!”
“Déjà vu!” repeats his brother.
“Stop it already!” she screams at one.
“Already,” he repeats, so she gives him the same treatment, with no discernible impact.
“Nearly home dear, not for much longer now.”
“Longer now.” I hear my own voice and tone waft back at me.
“Tell me about your day, dear, just try and shut it out, ignore it, let it drift over you.”
“Over you.”
“Oooo wooo, déjà vu! oooo wooo, déjà vu!  oooo wooo, déjà vu!”
“Er, we had, we had assembly,” she struggles to remain focused, tuned in but shut out.
“Great!  What happened?  Any awards?”
“Oooo wooo, déjà vu! oooo wooo, déjà vu!  oooo wooo, déjà vu!”
“Déjà vu!” repeats his brother.
“We er, sang songs, Star Spangled Banner and er…..a couple of other ones.”
“I actually know that one.  We had to learn it for our Citizen’s Exam.  Shall we sing it now, together, loudly?”
We sing together as the lights turn to green.  I sincerely hope that my mother never overhears such treason on my part.  [translation = she’ll put me up for adoption]
“There we go dear, thanks for singing with me.  Certainly did the trick don’t you think?” I ask rhetorically.  “You know I always muddle those two, the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful,” I add for no particular reason.
We pull into the driveway to park.  As I open the doors, Junior springs from the car singing  “America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”
His brother falls out of the car after him, several stanza’s and steps behind him, “shining sea!”
How on earth am I going to fade this before we fly back to the UK?  Will two weeks be enough?  I debate whether a long distance phone call to remind my mother of the meaning of perseveration and echolalia, might assist?  The thought of talking to my mother on the phone on this topic, whilst my son sings in the background, is enough to help me decide against it.  I do not wish to have a discussion about his “American accent,” frightful or otherwise.    I couldn’t care what kind of an accent he has, now that he has words at all.

*”Jerusalem” is a patriotic song sung in England.  It is approximately the ‘same’ in tenor, and isn’t the ‘God Save the Queen.’
Jerusalem

Written by William Blake

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green
And was the holy lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills
And was Jerusalem builded there
Among those dark Satanic mills

Bring me my bow (my bow) of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spears o’clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my (my) sword sleep in hand
‘Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land
‘Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land

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