Theodore Roosevelt, I Knew Him Well

Presidents are on the minds of second-graders this time of year, and A. caught me off guard the other day with one of his many fine questions:

“Daddy, were you alive when Theodore Roosevelt was alive?”

I wondered if I was looking a little more haggard than usual, my son was having trouble with history, he just felt like giving me a hard time or if all three were to blame.

The query came up as he filled out one of the many school worksheets that come home each week.

I guess I had it coming, since I’m sure I drive him crazy with tales of how we did things during the dinosaur days before the Internet.

I told him no, that old TR was around long before I was born. That didn’t really satisfy him, being that he considers anything that happened before 1980 to be really, really old.

But it got me thinking about the historical reference points he has. The election of Barack Obama was probably the first time he probably thought much about presidents. As for me, the race between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976 was the first time I paid attention.

He knows there is something going on in Iraq, mainly because the parents of one of his closest friends served there. I remember watching coverage of Vietnam on the evening news in the early 1970s, which was probably not the best thing for a little kid to see. But that was probably one of the first things to get me interested in the news biz.

A. is also nuts for Wii (which we don’t have) and iPods (he listens to mine whenever he can). I remember how cool it was in the 1980s to have an Atari 2600 and a Walkman that played tapes. He got a big laugh when he saw an old Walkman last year.

Really, the Roosevelt question wasn’t so bad. I cut the little whipper snapper some slack. At least he didn’t ask me if I personally knew George Washington back in the day.

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