Happy Fourth of July!
I'm not sure if he was more upset because he "needed" a shirt or because I'd dared to spend $4 for myself without buying him something. Either way, the situation was remedied yesterday when we walked into a retailer I'd rather avoid at all costs - but I don't right now because it's only discount store within 40 miles - and the guys spotted a stack of red, white and blue shirts for $3 each.
"OK," I said. "Pick one out."
"Daddy needs one, too," Big Guy said.
"Hon, Daddy can't wear it right now. All he can wear is his uniform."
"Then we'll put it away and save it for next year," he said.
We left with four shirts. I didn't notice the "made in Pakistan" label until we got home. The irony of that struck since most of Dad's current problems were fermented, if not made, in Pakistan. I also felt guilty about supporting sweatshops that pay Pakistanis under $3 a day to quench our insatiable thirst for $3 t-shirts. Defenders of the system argue that sweatshop work beats prostitution. I would counter that letting kids go to school instead of forcing them into work would create adults better able, financially and intellectually, to resist when the Taliban comes knocking at the door in the dead of night.
Stateside, Independence Day has always been Big Guy's holiday.
His first celebrated it before he could do more than babble random sounds, though he could walk. Man, he could walk. We went to a celebration at a college near our house that year, and if there 10,000 people there, he met 9,999 of them that night. He was ready to conk out just as the fireworks were about to start - he'd already done his fighting-sleep howl - but the second the first boom echoed, he was wide awake again. He sat quietly, his tiny mouth smiling gloriously, oohs and ahhs streaming from his lips.
Two years later, Boots was just weeks old and slept through his first Fourth of July. By then I'd recast it as "Hairmica's Birthday," and we always had to bake cupcakes and sing, just like at any proper birthday party.
We've partied enthusiastically every year since, usually at home with small groups of friends. We did venture back to the college campus one year, when they added face-painting, bounce houses and children's games to the schedule, but most years we stayed away from crowds. Our neighborhood offered a better view of the fireworks anyway.
Oh, and then there was last year, when Big Guy broke his wrist just hours before dark. I'm blaming that on his Godfather's Curse and hoping we're over it.
This year, we're sticking close to our new home. Dad's already celebrated abroad, with a cookout and a visit to the weekly cigar club. Sunday's usually his "weekend" - he gets four extra hours off.
We'll celebrate later, with a carnival on post. There will be bands, bounce houses and games with junky prizes that will trigger hours of bickering. And, of course, fireworks.
We'll wear the made-in-Pakistan shirts - I'll try to leave my guilt at home - and it will make the guys a little happier knowing that there's a fourth shirt at the ready for Fourth of July, 2011.
Copyright Debra Legg 2010. All rights reserved.