Monday, July 5, 2010

Fireworks? Really?

Yesterday was the Fourth of July. Our nation's birthday. The day commemorating our founding fathers' adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Our family celebrated the day the way most probably did. After having the neighbors over for a cookout, we all set off for downtown Powder Springs to watch the traditional fireworks.

Many people love going to watch fireworks. Me, not so much. In fact, when someone first suggested that we make the trek into town to watch fireworks, my first thoughts were, "Fireworks? Really?"

It's not the fireworks, themselves, that bug me; it's the hassle involved. It's not as simple as grabbing a blanket or some chairs, having a seat outdoors, and then relaxing. No, for us, such outings involve corralling four small kids, getting them out the door, and keeping tabs on them amidst a crowd of people who've been drinking beer all day and are prepared to fight you for any patch of ground that looks like prime firework-watching real estate. (Yes, I said four kids. Meredith and I just became foster parents to a beautiful 18-mo.-old girl named Nancy. I'm sure I'll have more to say about her in future Dadlosophies.)

Still, I agreed to go watch the fireworks because the kids wanted to. So, along with our neighbors, we loaded up the minivan and headed into downtown Powder Springs to do our patriotic duty.

I love my town. Powder Springs is your stereotypical, southern patriotic community. It's tailor made for the Fourth of July. Arriving just before dusk, we steered in and out of slow-moving traffic in search of a suitable parking space. Having viewed more gun racks and "American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God" bumper stickers than most people see in a lifetime, we finally found a spot about a mile up the road from where we would eventually settle in to watch the display.

Hiking a mile while holding an 18-month-old, a 3-year-old's hand, and a fold-out chair is always a fun workout. It's especially entertaining when you do it on a hot, July afternoon in Georgia. Anyone who knows their history knows that the first shots of the Revolution were actually fired at Lexington and Concord during the spring of 1775. But the Second Continental Congress didn't adopt the Declaration until July 1776. I sure wish our founders had been either bolder or more patient. Why couldn't they have declared independence around early May. Didn't they consider how much more comfortable a cookout would have been in early spring as opposed to mid summer?

Or, if they weren't inclined to speed things up, why couldn't they have held off until mid-September or early October? Imagine how much more comfortable watching fireworks would be on a cool autumn evening. Oh well, I guess they signed the Declaration when they did because they wanted to adjourn and get home before football season started--a goal I can appreciate, so I'll cut 'em some slack.

As for our fireworks expedition, we somehow found an open spot near the center of the action with all our children present and accounted for. Of course, no sooner had we set up shop than my son, William, announced that he had to go pee. Apparently, William's bladder must have sent a text to his younger brother's because he followed suit and announced that he had to "pee willy bad, too." So, taking both my boys by the hands, I navigated further into the heart of the patriotic celebration.

I finally found the port-a-potties. Only, the line stretched about fifty people deep. Realizing that my boys would never make it, I led them off the beaten path to some woods a block or two off main street. Then, after giving them a moment to accidentally urinate on their own shoes and pull up their Lightning McQueen underwear,we headed back through the crowd. More bumping, pushing, navigating, and repeating again and again, "Excuse me." (Yay, what fun.)

Upon returning to our seat, we then began the fun task of trying to keep seven young kids entertained until the fireworks actually started. William kept begging to ride a ride. I didn't know there would be rides, so I'd brought no money. The people seated around us then got to enjoy being serenaded by William's cries of agony after I told him that there would be no ride. God bless America!

My daughter, Emerson, and her friend Joely passed the time arguing over a DS and taking turns informing us parents that they were bored and ready for the show to start. Carson, my youngest son, kept grabbing his private parts and asking,"Where's da fire walks, Mommy?" All the while, little Nancy sat in my lap eating popcorn and periodically spilling ice-cold water that inevitably reached Daddy's "special places." Yes, it was definitely a night that made me proud to be an American.

Finally, the fireworks started about twenty minutes late. It was a good show. Up until the grand finale when William and Carson dove under Meredith's chair terrified, everyone had a relatively fun time. Then, once it was over, thousands of viewers all packed up their belongings and made the hike back up the road to our cars. Again, we managed to keep everything together. Other than William not paying attention and running head first into a mailbox, we all made it back injury free.

After fighting more traffic, we finally got our little ones back home close to midnight. Both they and their daddy were beat. Oh well, at least it was a memory. All I can say is, I am grateful for my country and for the Founding Fathers who had the guts to declare independence--even if they did choose one of the hottest days of the year on which to do it.

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