Last night as I watched the last fireworks fade away, I realized we had enjoyed an entire Fourth of July celebration without incident. My kids had fully participated in the picnic, the games, and the fireworks, all while blending in with the perfectly normal kids. I don’t recall anyone looking at them and then at me with that “What the…” look on their face.

I feel inordinately pleased with myself and my family. Compared to past years, this evening was a rousing success. We have bravely soldiered through many Fourths. We were smart enough not to take babies to fireworks, but we thought by the time they were kindergarteners, we could celebrate with the masses. Boy were we wrong. My son spent his first fireworks alternately covering his eyes and ears while continually screaming “Turn it off, turn it off” loud enough to be heard over the fireworks.

The next year we ostracized ourselves from our fellow picnickers when my daughter began to cry and scream, “She bit my butt,” while pointing at the daughter of acquaintances we had come with to the picnic. This was followed by an uncomfortable denial, a butt examination, a cleaning and bandaging of a definite bite wound, an awkward conversation with the biter’s parents, and a long, stonily-silent ride home.

Election year Fourth of July witnessed stunned silence among adults who overheard the tail end of an intense discussion about a woman’s right to choose…between my second grade daughter and her little friend. Who knew second graders’ considered presidential candidates based on their pro-life or pro-choice views? Unfortunately, her little friend’s parents did not appreciate my daughter’s decision to exercise her right to free speech.

The following year was the year my son began to question the safety of everything. Those Fourth of July revelers unfortunate enough to be seated around us had to listen to two hours of broken-record pyrotechnic safety questions, to which no answer was satisfactory. Then there was the food safety year, and finally the gross and wasteful consumption year.

So it was with a certain resignation that I sallied forth to celebrate this year’s Fourth. Imagine my surprise when the evening ended incident free. Do I dare declare my independence from miserable celebrations? Perhaps, like our founding mothers and fathers, I can put the battles behind me and watch my little revolutionaries mature into fine, upstanding citizens.

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