Today at dinner, Spitting Image asked me “Why do they call it The Fourth of July? Is that really the best they could come up with?” I then started to explain to her that it is actually called Independence Day, when The Pastor broke out in a citizenship test. He does this once in a while, usually at the dinner table. It involves questions like “What type of a government do we officially have?” (hint, it’s not a democracy). Because I am over eighteen, and already a citizen, I am exempt from this quiz. This gives me plenty of time to think deep thoughts like “Oh crap! Tomorrow is The Fourth!” This lead me to start planning our Independence Day, which will probably go something like this.
5:30am- Baby Snarky and Huggy wake up, super excited that today is a holiday. It is not a holiday involving presents, so they have slept in a little. They know that sleep is sacred in our family, so they will make about as much noise as a troop of baboons wearing tap shoes telling each other to be quiet. They will then drop a stack of dishes and throw a half a box of cereal on the floor while making breakfast.
7:30am- The Pastor and I have decided to sleep in, seeing as how this is a holiday without presents and no one is asking us “Aren’t you up yet? It’s almost six o’clock!” The Pastor makes his coffee and I walk through the kitchen trying to avoid stepping on cereal. This is when the question starts. I say question because it’s really only one question, asked over and over again until I have to be institutionalized. “How much longer until we go see fireworks?”
Now, The Pastor and I don’t usually plan these things out in advance. We will probably choose a firework location at about five o’clock this evening, so I just give the general answer of “Not until after dinner.”. This allows the younger children to break things up a little with the only other question I will hear all day “When is dinner?”. I hear this question about 384 times every day, so it doesn’t drive me quite as crazy. I simply play back my pre-recorded answer of “Six o’clock, the exact same time dinner has been every single day that you have lived with us.”
10:00am- Firstborn and Second Son roll out of bed. They wander downstairs and ask “Hey, what time are we leaving to see fireworks?” They stand there looking like I’m the crazy one as I scream “FOR THE LAST TIME, WE WILL NOT BE LEAVING TO SEE FIREWORKS UNTIL AFTER DINNER, WHICH WILL, FOR THE 3,475TH TIME IN YOUR LIFE, BE SERVED AT 6:00!” These two children then back slowly away mumbling something that sounds a bit like “relax!”
5:00pm- I am now shuffling, zombie like, through the kitchen muttering “After dinner. six o’clock” over and over. The children are hovering around the dinner table, sparking off electricity like a Tesla experiment gone terribly wrong. In order to put an end to the madness, I serve dinner at 5:30, which they devour in less than ten minutes.
6:00pm- The children are in the van, honking the horn and screaming “Let’s go!” and “He’s sitting in my spot!”. The Pastor and I are frantically looking up locations to view fireworks. Most of the nearby towns set them off yesterday. I have no idea why. Finally, we find an acceptable firework location that will not be horribly overpopulated, yet will still have an impressive show. Then, to the exasperated groans of our children, we load up the back of our van with lawn chairs and blankets. As completely unnecessary as the children see these items right now, they will be fighting over them like survivors of Armageddon fighting over the last can of beans, in about an hour.
6:15pm- We take off for our destination. Peace settles over the van. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I’ve almost made it. Except that I haven’t almost made it. You see, I live in the north. Like way in the north. Far enough north so that in the beginning of July, the sun doesn’t set until close to 10pm. I am now facing the longest four hours of my life.
6:30pm- We arrive at the firework destination. We are not the only people there. There are several other people who needed to get the kids out of the house, as well as men in ill fitting t-shirts selling hot dogs and beer. I briefly wonder how many beers it would take to make me not crazy and then strike that thought. Beer does not agree with my stomach, and I want the fireworks to be the loudest thing exploding tonight.
7:00pm- There has been impatient whining for the past 20 minutes. This stops as the fathers of other impatient children start setting off their own fireworks. No, I do not mean screaming. I live in a state where anyone can buy any type of firework they want on just about any corner. I’m pretty sure, judging by the size of some of the explosions going off around us, that you could buy a nuclear weapon if you had the right coupon. We brought sparklers because we are boring. Also we had no clue it was Independence Day until about 6am.
9:50pm- Everyone settles in as the fireworks are just about to start. It is at this moment that I remember my dogs. I can’t seem to remember if I kenneled the dogs. My dogs enjoy fireworks about as much as a soldier with severe PTSD. This leads me to wonder Why do we celebrate our freedom by severely traumatizing the men and women who have fought to protect it?
10:00pm- Baby Snarky and Huggy, who have now been asleep for the past hour (what with getting up so early) are violently awoken by the first explosions of fireworks. They both start screaming and demanding to go home. I will now spend the next half hour trying to calm them and convince them that fireworks are not trying to kill them.
12:00pm- We arrive back at home, after spending an hour trying to get out of a small crowded parking lot. We drop the children, fully clothed, in bed. We then offer each other a weak high five. We have successfully made it through another holiday.
Happy Independence day, and a special thank you to everyone who has worked for our freedom.