Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July

Yesterday we went to the parade in my parent’s town, about 10 minutes from our house. We go to this parade every year because it is the best one in our area. When Buster was three we went, and Batman was in the parade. He was carrying a few extra pounds, and Buster said scornfully “That’s not Batman. Batman is not fat.” It was his first disillusionment.

My sister and brother-in-law plan ahead to make it a comfortable event. The parade passes by their church, so they go early and park the van in the best spot of the parking lot along the parade route. They have chairs, a cooler full of drinks, snacks, etc. This year they set up a canopy for shade and rain protection. The weather report said heavy downpours during the afternoon, and the skies were heavy and dark when we set out. We weren’t sure if the parade was going to go on or not. When we got there I felt so good joining the party gathered under the canopy. It is so wonderful to be part of a big family, welcomed inside the shelter of shared resources and knowing that there will always be others who save you a spot.

Buster was with his dad, down in center city at the big celebrations. They like to go there every year but I prefer the small town gatherings closer to home. So it was just me and the little boys with our chair and stroller and umbrellas hiking across the parking lot to our group. Buddy boy remembered the parade from last year and every time we drive by that intersection he mentions the fire engines and marching bands and the candy thrown by politicians and asks when we can do that again. His birthday is also in July and somehow that has gotten connected in his mind to the fireworks and parade, so he thinks it happens for his birthday. He has been looking forward to this and talking about it for weeks.

Since we got there plenty early we had some time to wait for the parade to start. The rain started just as we arrived, and there was thunder and lightening on the horizon. The street was lined with folks in their chairs and umbrellas, all determined to wait it out. It was quite cozy and festive, with everyone wearing their red, white and blue and campaign volunteers passing out balloons and stickers, working the crowd for a visual welcome of the marching candidates. Police were patrolling, suggesting that folks take shelter from the lightening but reassuring everyone that the storm was passing and the parade was still on. We stayed put just like everyone else. Punkin was in a very cheerful mood, smiling at all our neighbors and playing with the balloons and hanging onto my knees. He loved everything in the whole wide world and I was delighted to sit there and adore him. Finally the sound of distant drumming and the flash of the first fire trucks coming around the bend!

Parades are pretty predictable when you think about it. It goes: fire trucks, soldiers, marching bands, politicians, fire trucks, soldiers, marching bands, politicians, etc., for two hours. But we love to see it all! Our first responders, our soldiers, our musicians, our political leaders! It makes us feel warm and safe. And happy! We had the governor and our congressmen and women and all their political partners and everyone running against them in the fall, marching and smiling and waving. I admit I get a kick out of seeing IRL the folks who are in the news every day. It makes TV seem more real or something.

We had an Elvis too. He was wearing his baby blue rhinestone outfit and singing Love Me Tender. He was carrying a few extra pounds, as he should be at his age. There were some teenagers sitting on the curb just in front of me, and the girls started screaming

“OMG!! It’s Elvis! OMG!!! My grandma should be here!!
OMG!! He’s singing Love Me Tender!! OMG!!! My grandma should be

Right after him the Harley Davidson motorcycle drill team came through, and the nice police officer had to tell the teenagers to move up off the curb a little. He came by three times to tell them to move back but the boys didn’t actually take their feet out of the street until the Harleys actually started streaming by 10 inches from their faces. They moved back into the street immediately when the cycles moved down. Risk-takers.

After the Harleys we had the librarian book cart drill team. They were jammin’ and having a ball. They gave out free books to all the kids. Punkin got a paperback of poetry by Jack Prelutsky and he chewed a big hunk out of the middle. Buddy Boy got one about daddy long legs spiders, which is a subject he is fascinated by.

The sun came out sometime in the middle, while the string bands played and it got pretty hot. I used my umbrella to shade the baby because we were sitting under the edge of the canopy and didn’t have shade. He was tired and sticky and grouchy by then. Buddy Boy was sitting up in the tailgate with his teenage cousin and her boyfriend for most of the parade. They were enjoying sharing the parade with him and comforting him when the soldiers shot off their guns with loud bangs, and urging him down to the curb to catch candy whenever it was thrown. For a while at the beginning he sat in my mom’s lap. I felt so grateful to have a family to share this with, other laps and arms and excitement for my kids. Sometimes when we are home on a rainy day and it is just me with the little boys I feel inadequate and small, thinking of how much they need and how foolish and weak I can be. Having good neighbors, a great community, and especially a family that is always there for us are tremendous blessings. That is what I love about this holiday.

After the parade we gathered up our trash and all our stuff and packed into the cars and drove over to my parent’s house for a cookout. It is amazing how tired you get just sitting and watching a parade. We were all exhausted. Keeping the kids out of trouble at the grandparent’s house isn’t easy either! We got off with only one temper tantrum though, and I managed to catch all the plates with knives that Punkin was about to pull down on his head. We went home before the fireworks. The boys are too young for it, IMO, and loud noises scare them still so I am happy to skip it. We put Punkin to bed and Buddy Boy and I went out to light sparklers.

Our neighbor Jo gave a bunch of them to Buddy Boy the other day, so we went over and knocked on her door to share the lighting with her and her friend. She has three boa constrictors and two turtles, so Buddy loves her. Buddy enjoyed the sparklers and visiting the reptiles, and then he went to bed easily and was asleep in 5 minutes, in spite of the neighborhood fireworks going off all night. Happy Independence Day!

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