Well…we lasted an hour at the Independence Day Gala at a friend’s house. Now 2 boys and I are contemplating Independence Day and Fireman Sam instead of fireworks, friends, and patriotic recitations. That hour was frightfully frantic: Pulling Jackson away from our friend’s pantry freshly stocked with a Costco-sized package of Jack’s beloved beans; looking up in horror from my rummaging for a swim suit as his stark naked body streaks toward a pool of screaming kids; driving home to find his swim suit and some allergy medicine to pre-emtively avoid the last visit’s fiasco of red eyes and wails; guarding the non-GF crackers and cookies from a determined boy who had already successfully tasted both kinds of the forbidden fruit. I was done. Treasured holiday or not, my allegiance to this celebration was squashed.
On the way home, images of my own fondly remembered Fourth of July celebrations as a kid tauntingly trailed through my mind: parades, fireworks, picnics, patriotic songs, friends, games, family. I admit, I shed a tear or two out of self-pity. And here’s an ugly truth, but I found myself wishing on this Independence Day that our dear seven-year old boy could be at least as independent as his four-year old brother, Sam. Wishing I could have a conversation that lasted longer than 30 seconds. Wishing I could casually smile and nod as the other parents do, glancing confidently at my little ones playing contentedly, not running about like a caged wildcat bouncing from pool, to plate, to forbidden fruit and out the gate. But that’s enough self-pity for this Fourth of July party.
The ridiculousness of my whining hit me in the face like a wet rag. Tonight’s celebration would include a ceremony to remind our precious rug-rats what all this party-fare is about: the birth of our country, the price of freedom, and the great privilege we have to wear that freedom properly as citizens of the United States of America. If not for the 56 brave signers who risked their property, fortune, families, and lives to become known traitors to England and founders of this great country, we would not enjoy freedoms so enormous, that we rarely give them a second thought. How utterly selfish of me to pout about childhood traditions when thousands of courageous men and woman have given everything to protect and preserve that sweet independence.
I love this God-breathed country where my son’s life is counted as precious, his education is considered worth pursuing, and his identity is considered a privilege to protect as well as celebrate. This great country holds dear an earnest pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness for all Americans no matter their qualifications, country of origin, socio-economic status, or IQ. This great country, though not perfect, counts my son’s happiness, freedom, and independence worth pursuing as well as protecting. And so do I. So on this Independence day, I thank God and brave patriots for permitting me to pursue Jackson’s total freedom to be all that God has breathed in him to be, and to know Heaven-come-to-Earth kind of freedom that blows all other freedoms out of the water. I am so thankful to celebrate this Independence Day with my blown-to-Kingdom-Come new perspective, my precious Jackson, my gracious God…and Fireman Sam.