Reflecting on the Fourth of July

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New York, NY – July 7, 2015

All right, so I’m posting my Fourth of July post today. I know, I’m a little behind schedule. On that day, I found myself in a mood of reflection, of contemplation.

My five-year-old kid and I woke up early on July 4, and we had breakfast, me waiting desperately for the coffee to brew. Little man mentioned the Fourth of July. So I asked him, “Do you know why the Fourth of July is important?”

“Fireworks?” he answered, making it a question, as if he weren’t entirely sure.

I lowered my head. “Well,” I began, trying to think of how to phrase this to such a young kid. “We do the fireworks because we’re celebrating. We’re celebrating freedom. The Fourth of July is about freedom.”

“What’s freedom?” he asked me.

I smiled. I thought about how to phrase my answer. The previous year, when he was four, we had visited Boston, where we went to the Boston Tea Party Museum, and re-enacted the Boston Tea Party. He had asked me why the tea was bad, and I had explained about the British Empire, but he had understood “vampire” and thought there were vampires at the museum. Parent fail.

“Freedom is – ” I began, “freedom is about doing what you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.” Okay, this was a highly simplistic answer, but please keep in mind, the kid is only five years old.

“Like,” I continued, sleepy-eyed and pre-caffeine, “A long time ago, the people who controlled this country, their soldiers could enter into the homes of the people, at any time, and take the homes over, sleeping there and eating their food and stuff like that. So, the Americans, we kicked them out, so that they couldn’t do that anymore. And on the Fourth of July, we celebrate the fact that our homes are protected, that no one can bother us.” I paused. “So now do you understand why we do the fireworks on the Fourth of July?”

Little man nodded. “Yes, so that no one can just come into our homes and do whatever they want.”

I smiled. “Exactly.”

See? It’s never too early to talk to your kids about liberty.

Happy (belated) Fourth of July. Well, for me every day is the Fourth of July because every day I celebrate the fact that my family escaped communist oppression to come to this country.

I hope that you and your family had an outstanding Fourth of July.

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