What an amazing way to celebrate the Fourth. The last time I was in the States for Independence Day, I was in college. Since then, I’ve elebrated as a Peace Corps Volunteer, as an entrepreneur abroad, as a local hire at a U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, in Freetown as the GSO (logistician-in-chief), and now, back in the States as a plain-old-regular American Citizen.
Lemme tell you, it is AMAZING celebrating Independence Day and not having responsibility for the enjoyment of anyone but my family.
We started the day by heading up to MD to have brunch with my parents and my brothers’ family. Trying to get all three families on the same page for major holidays has become a bit of a challenge. We’ve solved it by getting the Carpenters and Sondjos together for breakfast, instead of fighting over whose going to eat lunches and dinner where. Nobody else wants to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to drive to MD, so we never run into traffic, and we never have conflicting plans.
After an amazing (and unphotographed) breakfast, we went outside to let the kids exhaustthemselves. They did. OF COURSE AND THANKFULLY THEY DID.
On the way back to Crystal City, we saw a ton of people and tents at Long Bridge Park. I thought it would just be folks spreading out blankets to watch the show, but it turns out, there was a huge community event going on!
Except that Jasmine and Grace were fast asleep in the car and neither Bertrand nor I were convinced of their capacity to not turn into disasters before the fireworks started. We made a pact. We would go and have fun, and the moment either one of us thought either one of the kids were about to break down, we’d happily leave and not worry about the fireworks.
Soccer balls and face painting and food trucks and live music, oh my! The kids had a blast. We have been pleasantly surprised at what an effort Arlington and Crystal City are putting into making this area less “soulless suburbia” and more “pleasant neighborhood.”
After walking the entire park (and that thing is huge), Bertrand and I were ready to find a spot in the grass. I was exhausted. I’ve been practicing my thruster/ wall ball form with Jasmine all day. Turns out, you can get some real air on a toddler when you use proper form. Turns out, a 30 lbs toddler is a lot heavier than the 15 lbs bar I was using last night. We spread our blankets in the vicinity of a lot of families, and Jasmine had a great time running around like a maniac with other kids while we took a much needed break. I’d heard previously that a few hundred people would be at the park to watch the fireworks, but last night, there were easily a couple of thousand. The park was packed.
Amazingly, we made it until about 8:45. Without whining or screaming, Jasmine turned to me and said, “Maman, I’m TIRED. I want to go HOME.” Who can argue with that? So we packed up, got the kids together, convinced Jasmine to walk instead of being carried, and started making our way out of the park.
While on the long bridge out, we saw fireworks in the distance. We stopped and waited for a few more minutes, but they didn’t start in DC immediately, and Jasmine was turning into cranky pants. Just as we made it out of the park, we heard an explosion in the sky. The show had begun!
I’m so glad we got to see them! Jasmine was enchanted. Lights! In the sky! Over! And over! And over!
Happy Independence Day, America.