Monday, July 04, 2011

God Bless America

The kids and I went to see the fireworks with my sister and my nephew at Powderhorn Park again this year. I love going to Powderhorn Park. I love the diversity of the crowd there. People ranging from crunchy granola types to grandparents with their grandkids to homeless drunks to your everyday run of the mill boring Minneapolis residents like me. People of every color of the rainbow. Evey ilk and variety and type. Every notch on the freakiness spectrum is represented in Powderhorn Park for the 4th of July. As you can imagine, it is a people-watcher's heaven on Earth.

We watched people toss around footballs and frisbees and every conceivable item that could possibly be hurled through the air on a grassy hill. We inhaled the delicious scents of brats and hamburgers and hot dogs sizzling on grills all over the park. We inhaled a couple of bags of piping hot mini donuts. We watched the police make the underaged partiers to our right pour our their beer on the tree the kids had been playing under. We listened to those same partiers fling around F-bombs as they swore they were going somewhere else to watch fireworks. They didn't. The rest of the evening, we repeatedly directed the kids to stay away from the beer tree, lest they go home wreaking of liquor.

The night was nearly ruined for me as I listened to a women--actually, a teenager--sitting a short distance from us verbally berate her small daughter who probably wasn't even two years old yet. She screamed at the little girl to quit crying. To shut up. She yelled things that the little girl certainly couldn't comprehend. It was heart-breaking to see. My back stiffened. My heart sank. I wanted nothing more than to grab that little girl and run. It was late in the evening. The baby was probably tired. I've never met a toddler who doesn't cry when they are tired. Her mother was nothing short of hateful and verbally abusive. I was waiting for her to hit the child. I looked around to see if the police were anywhere near. I wondered if the other people sprawled on blankets all around us were as disturbed as I was. I wanted to say something. To tell the woman that her child was beautiful and precious and innocent and that she was going to ruin all of that with her ugliness and contempt. I wanted to smack her. However, she was sitting at a picnic table with a group of people that looked like they most certainly could have kicked my ass ten times over. So I averted my eyes. Tried not to see. Tried not to hear. I grabbed my own daughter and hugged her tight. I kissed her and told her what an amazing little girl she is. I held her close as we waited for the fireworks to start.

The fireworks themselves were a hit. Sophie loudly oohed and aahed over every single explosion that erupted above us. For the first time ever, we tossed aside tradition and did NOT choose to sit right behind a tree. For once, we were NOT watching the fireworks explode through a leafy cover. The kids were in awe. And I have to say, I loved them as well.

After the fireworks, we gathered up our stuff and walked the block and a half back to our car with exhausted kids in tow. About halfway there, I looked down to find Nicholas glowing. I do not mean glowing in the sense of being happy and content. No, he was literally glowing. When he looked up and spoke to me, his mouth radiated a neon shade of blue. His hand was glowing, as well. What the hell? It took me a moment to get over my confusion and understand why my son was glowing. He had bitten through the glow necklace he was wearing. The glowing whatever-the-hell-is-in-those-things was covering his mouth and his hand. A few years ago, I would have freaked. Prior to becoming the mother of twins, I would have certainly called Poison Control (which I would have had on speed dial, of course). Since having twins, however, nothing surprises me. Nothing shocks me. Nothing scares me. I simply handed him a bottle of water and had him take a swig to rinse out his mouth. He didn't die during the night, so I assume all is well.

All in all, I call it a successful 4th of July. No one died from neon poisoning. I didn't get my ass kicked by a picnic table full of scary thugs. The kids managed to not wreak of liquor by the time we got home. And there were mini donuts. Life is always better with mini donuts.

God bless America.


Madgew said...

Great story Shannon. We had our block party which we have had every three years since 1976. We close the streets and it is like a big old backyard party. All sorts of old fashion games like egg toss and water balloon toss. Snow cones and cotton candy. Lots of music and a square dance caller. The kids run wild and the parents drink.

Barb said...

Sounds like a great evening... aside from the heartbreaking details of the little 2-year-old. I wish you lived closer to us. My neighbors are licensed fireworks contractors and they put on a show in my backyard every year, so we're opening up the house to friends with kids so nobody has to lug coolers or be sure to find a spot on the grass close to the port-a-potty. July 16th if you're in the neighborhood. :)

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