BY BETHANY BAKKER, GRADE 6 TEACHER
My mom told me I wasn’t allowed to date anyone west of the Mississippi River. After all, I grew up in Wisconsin. I went to Dordt College in Iowa, met a guy from Chilliwack, got married, and moved to Canada a few years later. Now that I’ve lived here for 9 years, I often wonder if I should really consider myself American anymore. And if not, can I call myself Canadian without citizenship? I just don’t know.
No Eh’s or Zee’s for Me
When I moved here and began my first year of teaching, I firmly identified as an American.
I was proud of my accent and was playfully mocked for the way I said “hackey,” “mam,” “cran” and “Tad” instead of the proper Canadian “hawkey,” “mum,” “cray-on” and “Tahwd” (my husband’s name). I refused to convert! I would forever call them coloured pencils (because that’s what they ARE) and end the alphabet with a “zee.” I also refused to NEVER end a sentence with “eh.” I was pleasantly surprised to find that fewer people say “eh” around here than I expected and often use “hey” instead. I can cope with hey.
Over the years I have become less proud of my American heritage, for no particular reason…(J) other than that I just don’t feel like one any more.
But no matter how long I live here I think I will always be proud to be a born and raised Wisconsinite. Who wouldn’t be proud to be from a state where people wear cheese on their heads and cheer for the best NFL team in existence? I will forever claim to love cheese, like all good Sconnie’s do, even if we grew up only ever eating Kraft singles and cheese curds. I didn’t learn what it truly meant to appreciate the finer cheeses in life until settling in the Dutch mecca of Abbotsford.
This brings me to another point. Yes, I look Dutch. Yes, my maiden mouthful “Vander Zouwen” sounds about as Dutch as it gets. But down in Midwestern ‘Merica, many Dutch people immigrated a long time ago. So long ago, in fact, many never even heard of whacky foods like “booter kook” or “oly bowlin.”
Pleading My Case
All this rambling about my background does not whatsoever help me with my nationality crisis! All you logical, law-abiding folks out there will be saying that obviously I’m American. I was born there. I have citizenship there and only have PR status here.
You are a foreigner in a foreign land, dear Mrs. Bethany Bakker.
However, some of you will see my dilemma. The 9 years I’ve lived here in Canada have been the most adult years of my life. I never even lived on my own in the states, aside from living on campus in college. But since I’ve done all of my adulting in Canada…doesn’t that make me at least somewhat Canadian?
I have embraced the accent. I now make all of my sentences sound like questions in an effort to not sound too sure of myself in case I may offend someone. I hear the temperature in Celsius and actually know approximately how warm it is instead of just saying, “hmm, oh yes…it’s quite the temperature today,” while trying to convert to Fahrenheit in my head. Yes, the metric system makes more sense. That was probably the easiest conversion for me (Fantastic pun—definitely intended).
So what am I really? I don’t know.
I have been wanting to share all of my chuckle-worthy thoughts about the differences between Americans and Canadians for a long time. And now you have a very small snapshot into who Mrs. Bakker is. Some lady, born in America, has lived here for a while, and who thinks she’s hilarious. I guess you haven’t learned that much about me.
Sorry, folks, I guess that’s all you get, hey?