Watching fireworks on the Fourth of July is one of my favorite childhood memories, and I'm excited to share that with my my own kids . . . someday. But right now, while they're still young (one and four), the risk of having two cranky kids out way past bedtime doesn't come close to outweighing the reward of making some Independence Day memories. It's not like we strictly obsess over bedtime, but when my 4-year-old asks to go to sleep right after dinner after a long, hot day, no way am I going to say no — especially not to pack up our family, drive somewhere crowded, and wait for loud pops and bangs that will probably make my kids bury their heads in my lap anyway. Don't get me wrong — I don't hate fireworks or making memories with my family, but I do hate potentially ruining a perfectly good Summer evening by allowing my kids to turn into exhausted gremlins so I can watch a few lights flash in the sky.
Why worry about my kids being the ones who ruin the evening of those around us because they're overtired and miserable? Why put myself through the stress?
A time will come when my children staying out later than normal a few nights a year won't throw our family off for the next few days. A time will come when I won't have to worry about the baby falling asleep and being woken up by the noise, or not falling asleep at all and just fussing his way through the Independence Day celebrations. A time will come when I'll care enough to see the fireworks that I'll pack a cooler and picnic blanket so we can watch the show as a family. But that time is not this Fourth of July. And I'm OK with that, even though some of my friends and family give me grief about it. I get to pick when to bend the rules because I make the rules, and if this isn't a time that's worth it to me, they can get over it.
And despite not watching the fireworks this year, I still teach my children about why we celebrate our great nation. I teach them to respect the flag and those who fight for it. They're slowly starting to understand what it means to be an American, and when they're old enough, they'll get to celebrate with a real-life fireworks show. Why take a fussy baby and an irritable preschooler out to an event they might not even enjoy? Why worry about my kids being the ones who ruin the evening of those around us because they're overtired and miserable? Why put myself through the stress of sitting in traffic with those two overtired and miserable kids trying to exit whatever venue we watch from?
I guess this is making me sound like an Independence Day Grinch, but I swear I'm not. This doesn't mean we won't celebrate at all; the older one can do sparklers in the yard with our neighborhood friends, both kids will be wearing red, white, and blue all day, and we'll enjoy a festive dinner and an American tri-colored dessert. And then, we'll put the kids to sleep, sit back, and raise our glasses in a toast to the US from the comfort of our very own backyard. And I'll be happy to have well-rested, happy children to continue enjoying the Summer with on the fifth of July.
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