Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

I love celebrations of all kinds, and the 4th of July festivities that commemorate our freedom with BBQ and fireworks are a summer favorite. I'm not normally a fan of big crowded events, and tend to shy away from lakes and campgrounds on holiday weekends when the loud and sloppy party crowd is out in full force, but we did want to see some colorful and pretty explosions this year. We decided to try out a small towns 3rd of July celebration and fireworks show that wasn't too far away, thinking that would be a charming and nostalgic kind of thing.
First of all, we needed to pick up a few things for the next day, like a watermelon and salad fixings, and we knew nothing would be open after the show. Well, the nearest store to the fireworks set off point was a Super Walmart, so for the sake of time, we stopped there. I'm not a big fan of the shopping experience I get at a Super Walmart, but I was determined not to be judgmental about the excessively short shorts or colorful vocabulary that were abundant. We got our melon, cucumber and carrots and got out in no time. We noticed the dirt lot across the street was packed with cars and lawn chairs, but I told dear husband that I was sure that there must be another spot we could watch the show besides the Walmart parking lot. I've had a number of instances lately that really make my life look more hillbilly-ish than I care for (like friends laughing at my having a tiny working TV stacked on top of a larger broken TV in my living room because dear husband "forgot" to take the broken appliance to the the recycle center, but that's another story.) At this point, I really just wanted to get a better view of the show, so I suggested we find another parking spot.
Well, we got a view of a show all right.
We drove through a few sketchy hoods, that were a tad on the scary side, but finally found a spot to park alongside the main road in a long line of other cars. The show started late, but we were excited when the local yokel politician finally quit talking, and the girl quit singing "The Star Spangled Banner," and at long last, the sky started to light up.
Just a few minutes into it though, the people standing a few cars in front of us began moving into the road, blocking traffic and waving. In seconds a police car stops with lights blinking, and we hear someone say that a woman is passing out. The officer brings a lady right up to the vehicle in front of us and starts questioning her about how long since she's had a drink, how many Vicadin she's taken, when she last ate or slept. We're really trying to watch the fireworks, but they are kind of right in our peripheral vision and it's a little distracting. The police lights flashing in our faces are kind of diminishing the spectacular effect of the show. A man behind us with his toddler did a great job of making the police lights seem to be just part of the show for his young innocent kid, but mine are old enough to figure out what's going on. The  lady is kind of weaving around and unable to complete most of the tests, but she gave it her all on the breathalizer, which I suspect she failed miserably on.

It wasn't a surprise that she ended up in handcuffs, and while I really wasn't thrilled at my kids witnessing her arrest (this is exactly why we don't watch much in the way of TV,) the worst part was that there were kids in her car with her too. When I heard someone call "Mom?" from near her car my heart just sunk.
It really put a damper on my celebration of freedom thinking that this woman will most likely be spending the holiday in jail, while there is a good chance those kids will be in the care of Child Protective Services for the weekend at least. What a sad thing for those kids to remember the rest of their lives. I can only hope that the intoxicated woman wasn't the driver, but just under the influence in public. Maybe there was another safe adult in the family, someone the kids know and could go with rather than spend the weekend in a strange foster home. Mostly I am glad that no one was hurt, that she wasn't able to drive that night and put peoples' lives at risk, and that she didn't make a big scene about the arrest. I hope those kids are in a safe place, and that they are resilient, because that's really got to be a lousy memory- the year mom got arrested at the freedom festival.
Besides the up close and personal live reality show, we found out the reason the fireworks started so late was due to high winds and fire danger. It was also the reason they cut the show short and had no grand finale to speak of. We drove home trying to feel celebratory, but it was a bit phony.
Today, I think we'll do a quiet family celebration, and avoid the drama of the general public. Despite the fact that I wish my kids could just stay innocent in their happy little bubble rather than see some other kids mother intoxicated and getting arrested, I know that we have much to be thankful for- we are after all free- and many, many people in the world are not. We can express our opinions (even though I wish some people, like the politician last night, would stop talking,) we can wear what we want (even though I really wish some people would not choose to wear the unsightly things they do) and we have countless rights and blessings that so much of the world will never, ever know.
The unpleasant experience did give us a good chance to talk about how the legal justice system works in our country, and in others, as the kids had a few questions. There we go, learning all the time again.
I'd love to hear how other people handle it when their kids have unplanned eye opening experiences like this.
I also hope everyone else has a happy, safe (and drama free) 4th of July. How are you celebrating?