Independence Day rolls around every year just in the nick of time. The kids are out of school, the heat of summer has set in, and everybody is ready for a holiday.
My brother and his family are in town for a visit, so this year the celebrations lasted all week. There were BBQ's, sleepovers with the cousins, swimming, family portraits, field trips to Chuck E Cheese, roller skating and of course, fireworks.
In Anderson, CA they celebrate early every year and do fireworks on the 3rd of July. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe they are more patriotic than most and just can't wait that extra day to celebrate America. Or, perhaps the pyrotechnic guy doesn't charge as much the day BEFORE Independence Day. Who knows? But it's honestly not a bad deal for us. The fireworks are only a few miles from our house and they put on a pretty good show.
I talk like I know. But honestly, this is the first year I've actually left my house to see the Anderson fireworks. You see, we have small children. If those kids are going to function as humans the next day, they should really be in bed around 7pm. The fireworks don't start until 10pm. Do the math. It's not hard. The big show starts three hours after their normal bedtime. Which means after we watch the fireworks, get back to the car and sit in traffic for 20+ minutes for our two mile drive, it's probably going to be four hours past bedtime by the time they are actually in bed.
Generally I tend to be the bedtime police and get those kids to bed at a reasonable hour by any means necessary. I've seen the fallout from the occasional late night, and it ain't pretty. There is crying. And whining. Hair gets pulled. Toys are thrown. They don't sleep in because their internal alarm clocks are SET and 100% reliable. It's just not worth the crabby day that follows to let those little people stay up late.
But, I think I mentioned my brother is in town. And sometimes your siblings encourage you to engage in behavior that might not be in your best interest. And there might have been some competition brewing about who was the cool aunt/uncle. So we decided to keep the kids up late and take them to see the fireworks. Four kids, 10pm fireworks, what could possibly go wrong? Oh, and did I mention it was still close to 100 degrees as we were packing up the car? Good times indeed.
We ended up finding a pretty prime spot to watch the fireworks, just across the highway from where they shoot them off. We got settled in our lawn chairs, and watched the kids play ring toss with their plastic glow necklaces.
The rest of the story gets a little blurry (kind of like the crappy cell phone fireworks photo posted above), but we had a kid wet themselves, two kids got into a major collision while running to catch their glow necklaces, and one kid fell asleep during the fireworks. The evening ended with me digging gravel out of my daughter's chin road-rash.
I've committed to finding the joy, so here it is. I love fireworks. I love watching my kids and their cousins play, even if it ends in tears and a little bit of blood. Those are the stories they will be laughing over at my 80th birthday party someday. I love finding a "secret" spot that is awesome for watching the fireworks, and doesn't cost $4 per person. I really love that our house was blessed by the sleep fairy last night and my kids actually did sleep in after this big night on the town.
I'm hoping one day their definition of "sleeping in" will be later than 6:45am. But for now I'll take what I can get. Happy birthday America!