I’m guessing that there are few times in your life as a parent that you get to experience feeling that you are some kind of superstar mom or dad. Somehow, I was graced with that incredible feeling for nearly two straight days this weekend as my kids flew through July 4th, happier than I think I have ever seen them before. It truly was the greatest weekend ever; all I could think every time I looked at them was that there could be no better time or place to be a kid.
A month ago, I began planning our first annual block party on our new street. I hadn’t ever done one before, so I was winging it. We took a laid back approach and everyone jumped in with lots of ideas and offerings. In the end I heard from about 14 of 19 homes that would attend, which I considered a great response! We spent the 4th cooking and getting last minute plans together and then headed down the street for a homespun fireworks display like nothing I have ever seen! We’re talking a serious show – it was unbelievable. What a sane alternative to dragging Finn, hours past bedtime, to a dark park to see the things. All the kids were totally into the festivities and loved every minute. Following the adults’ lead, our parrot Finn, screamed “Back up!” repeatedly to the kids who closed in on the fire starters. It was a great night.
Saturday was really a kid's dream. By 9am, the streets were swarming with the 25+ kids we have in our one small block. They were all super excited and strung out from the night before, anxious to see the open area adjacent to our house transform into a block party. One by one, tables and tents took shape, music began playing, volleyball nets, bean bags and other games were set up and the giant jumpy thing and huge air-filled water slide arrived. It was only topped by the entrance of the snow cone machine and visit from a local fire truck and ambulance – they stayed for an hour, gave tours and passed out trinkets. Really, those 25 kids and others they had invited were truly on cloud nine.
With their bodies covered in tattoos and face paint, they ate and slurped and jumped and slid. They tossed bean bags and danced and rode their bikes through the streets. These little kids, 80% of them under the age of 8, didn’t even have one argument for the whole day. As our family-friendly pooches stretched in the sun and caught the occasional food sacrifice, parents had the chance to meet and talk, for a few uninterrupted minutes. People shared their favorite family culinary specialties, their juice boxes and their time. (I ate a warm gilled tortilla filled with marinated skirt steak and homemade salsa verde that was to die for! Actually, I ate two.)
At some point, when it was still light out, Logan snuck to my side and asked, “Mommy, can we do this every year?”
“Definitely!” I said.
She answered with the most heartfelt “thank you” I’ve ever heard.
By the time dusk arrived, so did our loyal firefly brigade, providing fresh entertainment for everyone. The kids donned their glow necklaces and partied on, until they finally petered out near 10:30. As I tucked their graffiti wearing arms and legs into bed, I vowed to wash them and their sheets first thing in the morning.
But first thing in the morning was different for once, with Logan waking up at 9, Riley at 9:30 and Finn being woken up at 9:45! When I pulled him out of bed, the poor thing, who I twice caught drinking snow cone syrup straight from the pump, proceeded to throw up all over. Then he ate six pancakes, half a bagel and cream cheese and two jugs of milk! I’m thinking it was just his body begging, “No more fun (straight sugar) today please!”
Despite the crabbiness and foot pounding, whining and tantrums that Sunday brought along, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was a success in every sense, but mostly for all of our kids. It’s true that you can’t pick your neighbors and a lot of the kinks are being worked out around here this summer. But it sure says a lot when fourteen families can come together with barely any notice and throw a huge party, with our kids’ fun in mind. I’m all for living in the moment, but I’ve got to side with the kids on this one…. I can’t wait for next year either!