I have mixed feelings about the 4th of July this year. When I was a kid, it was my favorite holiday, especially since my birthday followed two weeks after, and what kid doesn't love fireworks, swimming, ice cream, watermelon, hot dogs, chips, more swimming, sparklers, etc. As I grew, and learned, I still enjoyed it, but wasn't as into it as I used to be. Recent politics and treatment of child refugees seeking help has made me feel disgusted and ashamed of how America is presenting itself. Then I remember of the horrors its committed to other groups of people including my own ancestors, and really, there is a dark history hidden behind the flash and awe of the fireworks.
I'm doing my best to educate the kids on an age-appropriate discussion of the current events and past atrocities, while still trying to make this holiday an enjoyable one for their youth. Mix business and politics? Probably not the best idea, but I'm not going to lie about what I'm feeling. Staying silent is worse than losing customers. Watching children be ripped away from their parents while half of Americans justify it and defend these actions is disgusting. I document families quite regularly, and seeing these children and their parents suffer hits close to home. I have kids their age, and I imagine the pain and fear of losing my own kids while trying to flee violence and terror. Empathy. Simple, wholesome empathy. This country is lacking it and my prayer is that by next 4th of July, conditions will be better for those who are terrorized by our government.
Back to the point of this post. We tried desert camping in AZ, in July. I actually dislike desert camping and refused. A drought and stir-crazy kids will do a lot to sway a decision. We took a risk. My husband had the 4th off of work, and we made a spontaneous decision to rent a campsite at our local lake so we could kayak and see the fireworks without having to battle the crowds and risk a car accident or ticket on the drive home. Desert camping was surprisingly easy compared to dispersed woods camping. I prepared sandwiches for dinner, hard-boiled eggs and cereal for breakfast, plus snacks, done! No cooking required. There were restrooms with flushing toilets, the lake water had receded quite a bit, but it was within walking distance. The kids loved playing in the dirt and squirting each other in the face with water bottles to cool off.
It's our duty as parents and role-models to show our children how to be kind. Cruelty isn't in our DNA, it has to be taught. Here's to the people working hard to teach love, to teach kindness, to show our fellow human beings how good this country can be. Here's to the parents raising their children with love and showing them that when you treat others with love and kindness, you are creating a brighter future for them. Here's to the land of the free, may you heal, may we wake up and work together rather than rip each other apart.