Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Little Taste of Freedom and Independence

Since my marriage to an Englishman nearly two decades ago, I have been trying desperately to get my husband to join me in the most general of July 4th celebrations, not the least of which is the viewing of the traditional fireworks display. We lived in DC for 10 years, a decent walk away from the National Mall, where the most beautiful and extravagant fireworks are presented every year, but he would always decline, in favor of remaining at home. His justification is (mostly jokingly) that he sees no reason to celebrate the day our country gained its independence from his (now he states that it's the day his country let us have ours back...). And every year, I challenge him to poll a group of Americans about what July 4th is to them and defy him to come up with much more than answers akin to “fireworks” and “hotdogs on the grill.” I tell him to enjoy our ignorance and come party with the rest of us! Perhaps this has changed since September 11th, 2001, when Americans now more strongly recognize our troops who are fighting to maintain the liberties that we, as Americans, have, and for them we are so grateful.

We had our own little taste of freedom and independence, working hand-in-hand, this weekend. Samantha likes to try to exert her independence, as all 3 and 4 year olds do, but the reality of this is that we pretty much do not let her out of our sight unless she is locked in her room (we have a childproof door handle on the inside of her bedroom door, which will probably be coming off very soon...). She is not confident enough on stairs to allow her to roam the house alone, and after the scare with her pulling her dresser on top of herself last year, we’re extra vigilant about everything else. Lately she’s been really getting into the game of hide-and-seek. I now feel comfortable that her attention to the game is strong enough that she can count in one room and track us down in another, minutes later. She’s very focused in this, and is a relentless “seeker.” Also, she respects the gates I put up to block access to the other floors. She never tries to bypass them.

On Saturday night, we had some friends over for dinner, including their (typically-developing) 7 (sorry Susan, can’t remember how old N. is…did I get it right?) year old, N. We wanted to eat and socialize out on the deck, to enjoy the beautiful weather that is so uncharacteristic for July in this part of the country. Samantha had to be bribed with books and toys and potato chips to stay out there, as we really didn’t want her wandering around inside the house on her own. I think I spent more time chasing her and bringing her back out than I did actually enjoying the conversations we were having. Once we had finished eating, we stayed outside, and N. and Samantha went in. I figured the gates were on the stairs, and N. could keep Sammi entertained. And entertained, they were! Every time I looked in the window to the living room, they were engaged in a different game or activity. They went from playing doctor to having a tea party to drawing on magna-doodles to playing hide-and-seek. For nearly two hours. I was so impressed. I felt that little bit of freedom that comes with the acknowledgement of a child’s independence. I felt like allowing her to do those things will help to make her more confident, as well. At one point, I told N. that I’d have to put Sammi to bed soon, and nearly laughed at the sad look on her face when she said, “Can’t she wait and play with me until I leave?” I let Sammi play longer. 

We must have been feeling relaxed that evening, because we even let the cat out on the deck with us, which has always been a no-no. I forgot about him for a while, suddenly panicking when I realized I hadn't seen him in a while, until I saw him fast asleep on the grill cover on the floor in the corner. Enjoying his freedom and independence with the rest of us.

And now a few pics from the weekend. Steve stayed home while Samantha and I walked to the lake (just three blocks away) with friends to watch the fireworks under the stars.  Okay, that sounds so peaceful and romantic, but the reality was that every time the fireworks exploded Sammi cried, "No fireworks!" while being sure to still watch them.  She relaxed a bit when I covered her ears, but was very relieved to go home when they finished.  I actually was glad that Steve stayed behind, because he was then able to tell me when we returned that we have a perfect view of the light show from our deck. Perhaps next year we’ll all stay home.

Playing soccer (okay, sitting on the ball then falling off of it)

Waiting for the Fireworks with Matty & his Daddy

Waiting for the fireworks in a chair that matches her dress surprisingly well

Beating the heat


Lacey said...

Yeah I think I would make my hubby join us for the fireworks, he does live here now right? LOL!

Amy Flege said...

uh, doenst he live in the US now?? just sayin!

Michelle said...

sometimes its so hard to let go a little and give them some independence isn't it?! But you did it :) Sounds like N was a great playmate for Sami!

Love the pics - she is a doll!