July 4th, 2010

Possibly in subconscious reaction to last year’s Independence Day (when we sat on a NJ beach, looking up and down the sand and saying things like, “The flies are biting me!” “Hide the dog—the cops are coming!” and “Was that the fireworks?”), the Scheir family attended the good old downtown Dover 4th of July festivities.

First, we biked a couple of blocks, sat on a hot brick wall, and watched the 6 pm parade—which, notably, featured a man in a bamboo cage chillingly simulating a prisoner of war, unicycles, chihuahuas, drill sergeants, Mustangs, Corvettes, and enough candidates to make me wonder things like, “With a name like Bennett, shouldn’t that guy be running for Senate?” I was particularly impressed by US Rep hopeful Mr. Urquhart, whose campaign is built on spongy foam, heart-shaped “stress ball” giveaways, an RV with a giant picture of his head on its side, and his own theme song.

I have done enough research on the guy to uncover that back in April, he said it was Hitler who first used the phrase “separation of church and state” (it wasn’t) and encouraged the audience, “The next time your liberal friends ask you about the separation of church and state, ask them why they are Nazis.” Oh my—time for a new theme song.

Fast forward to 9 pm when we parked the car downtown, then entered the sea of humanity that is Dover’s Legislative Mall on the 4th of July. It seemed like every camp chair in town converged on the dry grass in front of Legislative Hall to take in the show, which was preceded by an Army band doing a darn good job of getting us all in the mood. The nice and possibly intoxicated gentleman who insisted that we lay our blanket in the 4 foot by 4 foot space in front of him did a nice job walking his group through what to expect (“The lights will dim, the 1812 Overture will start, the fireworks will go up! I don’t know why, but it brings tears to my eyes, man!”). Unfortunately, he was about 4 songs too early, but that was OK. We were too busy to notice because we were retrieving our superbouncing koosh ball from the quiet and a little shocked looking immigrant family on the blanket next to us (and I mean RIGHT next to us).

Anyway, right after “Stars and Stripes Forever” the Overture did start, and lo and behold there was actual CANNON FIRE!!! I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but I still didn’t see it coming, and even if I did, I would have expected a recording, and let me tell you, it was kind of awesome. Then, with the cannon fire were fireworks, which lasted about 10 seconds, leading us all to ask, in the tradition of last year, “Was that it?”

But that wasn’t it! No, the Dover organizers put on an amazing fireworks show cued to—wait for it—the Greatest Hits of the 1980’s. Van Halen! Journey! Madonna! Prince! What says “I Love America” more than the theme from “The A-Team”??!!?! Let me tell you—not much. Never did bon Jovi’s rock anthem “Dead or Alive” sound more patriotic to me than last night. Jon bon Jovi sings, “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all!” and you think, “Yeah man, just like George Washington! He rode a horse too…and maybe sang a little in his spare time in his parlor. Or whistled through his wooden teeth. Whatever, man. ROCK ON FOUNDING FATHERS!”

All in all a great, kinda kitschy evening—enough to make us want to stay local every July 4th. But if we miss it, we can always go up the road to Smyrna, which is celebrating the 4th on the 5th. Or we could have gone to Aunt Bebble’s condo, which celebrated the 4th last Wednesday. Maybe I’ll celebrate the 4th on March 13th next year—I’m thinking a tribute to Judas Priest might work. Interested?



Oh, You Kids…

I can report with confidence now that summer vacation is in full swing. My evidence for this assessment is that my children have been docked two weeks’ allowance for making it so that whenever you pull the string in my, their mother’s, back, I frantically repeat the words, “stop it…stop it…stop it…” while making a list of every single thing I can take away from them.

Saturday it was the complaining, punching, and kicking. Sunday it was the sand-throwing (and punching and kicking). Then it started in again yesterday with the grouching and exasperated sighing, and it peaked yesterday afternoon when their blatant disregard of my instructions landed them at opposite ends of the couch for half an hour doing absolutely nothing.

In case you’re wondering, the couch thing wasn’t so much a punishment as it was a last ditch rubber room type effort to put them somewhere that they couldn’t emotionally or physically hurt themselves, the house, or me, thus earning themselves a 20-year stay in their rooms and a middle school through post-grad correspondence program.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but I’ll say that the whole experience, and the events which followed, ironically have kind of renewed my faith in my children. Our accidental family motto could be, “Don’t make a bad thing out of a good thing,” and I’m proud to say that the kids really snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. After the punishments were handed down, and the couch sitting ended, they moped, but remarkably recovered. Once the frowns grudgingly turned upside down, we shared laughs and snacks, and then took our planned evening trip to our local pool. It was there that some magic happened.

Somehow 12-year-old Jake ended up in a leadership role among the late night boys’ crowd who, at the urging of the lifeguards, participated in an impromptu water treading competition. The winners? My children. Those two little heads just sat there in that water forever. While other kids razzed the guards, got booted for cheating, and generally floundered, my kids just stayed where they were and kept on treading. Hayley managed about 20 minutes—far more than most of the boys (when she got out of the pool, I whispered, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” And she whispered back, “Better.”). Then Jake treaded for an astonishing 30 minutes and was declared the winner mostly because the guards were tired of watching him. Wet, shivering, and wrinkled, he told me that his marathon effort was really inspired by a grudge against a girl who always outlasted him in swim class—like 4 years ago. She wasn’t there, but he had something to prove, and he did it.

So the day ended on a high, if wet, note, and everyone closed the night tired and happy. Nice.

Now for today…