Driving in to Milltown to see the fireworks was almost a mistake tonight. We both had our Starbucks coffees and the boy had his Frappuccino. We were ready for the show. However, every parking lot, every side street, every curb was filled with people who had already staked out their area and set up their chairs. We circled a few times, hoping to find a spot. No luck. Then it started to rain. Lightly at first, and then enough to have us doubt the fireworks would go on at all.
An idea! Let’s go to the Home Depot parking lot and watch from there. We drove almost a mile away, arriving to the parking lot where several others had the same idea. The rain continued, the windshield became blurry, and the boy became restless as we waited another 15 minutes. The sparkling explosions finally began, and we got out of the car, the boy and I.
As we stood there, I heard people around me admiring the lights, the colors, and the brightness. A small child’s sweet voice could be heard, laughing in amazement. Parents and children sat in their cars, or stood in the rain, cheerful and wet. My son and I shared an umbrella, and looked up together, past the stores and the trees, at the fireworks of this 4th of July. My child, who is now as tall as me, leaned against me as I put my arm around him. For just a moment, it felt like it was just the two of us.
And then, the show was over, and the cars began their battle to get out of the parking lot as fast as possible. All kinds of families, different ethnic groups, rap, rock, and reggaetón blasting from car radios, everyone was cutting each other off. Nothing says America to me like the wonderful differences between all of us, and the incredible and amusing urge to be the first one in line to go home!
On the way home, my boy said "Thanks guys", and I remembered that it is indeed easy to make my child happy.