Happy 4th of July 2011

I used to feel apathetic towards the 4th of July, going to BBQs in the heat isn’t my idea of thrilling, and fireworks on hot mosquito infested nights isn’t my idea of super-fun, but it was something to do in the middle of the summer. Now that I am a parent and a homeowner, however, I find myself liking it even less.

First there is the heat: we don’t have AC, and while the house does stay fairly cool with out it, outside still heats up into the 90s, and the toddler and baby don’t do well in the heat. The toddler gets cranky and the baby zonks out until he wants to nurse, and then holds my boob hostage until he zonks out again. This makes outings tricky: we have to pack snacks, hats, sunscreen, etc. and a simple outing turns into an undertaking that rivals the invasion of a small country, both in logistics and equipment (thank goodness we have an SUV).

Admittedly, the heat is a problem all summer, but around the 4th of July one feels the urge to “get out and do something” – as does EVERYONE ELSE, so the roads are crowded, there is no where to park, and you end up driving around for several hours in traffic, give up in frustration and go home.

Then there are the fireworks. Some uber-patriotic people enjoy lighting fireworks both on July 3 and July 4. I’m glad you’re feeling uber-patriotic, how about you settle for wearing a flag-t-shirt and red-white-and-blue socks instead? One night with freaked-out infant and upset toddler is enough.

There are also the neighbors who like to light sparklers in the street, in front of our house, and our under-watered foliage. I understand they want to have a good time, but it hasn’t exactly been pouring down rain recently, so things are a bit dry. We live in semi-detatched townhomes (we share a common wall on one side), and I don’t want to see our under-watered foliage, neglected xeroscaping (or our house) go up in flames because of a stray spark.

Finally, there are the little American flags on little wooden sticks. The toddler spent much of the day wildly waving one around (I have no idea where it came from or what possessed him to do this) and poking at the baby with it. This led him to be exiled to the living room, while the baby was put in the kitchen so he could nap out of reach.

On a less selfish note, I also worry about the farmers, ranchers, and land owners out here. It has been dry and one spark could set acres on fire. We’ve all heard about the wildfires raging across pretty much everywhere this summer, and I’d hate for them to happen in our backyard (there is a dry-looking orchard across the back fence from us, I’d prefer it to stay off-fire).

So, while I do genuinely wish all of you a Happy 4th of July, I also hope you set off fireworks and sparklers responsibly (not in our front drive, or within hearing distance of the children). Good luck avoiding the heat and mosquitoes, and remember what the day is actually celebrating.

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