I had my almost six year old grandson for the 4th of July and much of the week before. The small town parade (lots of candy thrown) and kid friendly carnival were wonderful. The fireworks that evening were a strange event with thunder and lightning competing with the ooh-ahhs. (More)

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My grandson got my undivided attention and relished being an only child for 5 days. We had a great time building fires and toasting dinner and S’mores. We collected leaves, kindling, pine cones and bugs. We visited The International Wolf Center and the local farmers’ market. He is the proud owner of a bottle of cinnamon flavored real maple syrup. I told him I was a syrup snob and that it was about the only kind of snobbishness I approved of. He decided he’d be a syrup snob too.

At the parade he waited for the candy tossers and for Senator Al Franken. Those were his highlights. The Franken volunteers asked him if he wanted a Franken sticker. He said, “Of course. I am a Democrat and my Nana makes phone calls for Al.” A Republican candidate’s volunteers just slapped the stickers on kids without asking. Grandson came over to ask if this guy was a Democrat and I said no. He chased down the volunteer to return the sticker and tell them “You should ask first. I am a Democrat. I’m a kid but you should still have asked first.”

I tried to talk him into skipping the fireworks because of the weather. He really wanted to see them so we put on rain boots and rain gear and drove off. For the first 5 minutes, waiting for them to start it was mostly just sprinkling. There was lightning and thunder in the distance. They started a bit early and the rain turned into a downpour. We ran for the car and watched them through the windshield wipers.

Throughout the day he asked about the holiday and why it was a big deal. I told him it was our country’s birthday. We used to be part of England and on this day 238 years ago we said we wanted to be our own country. My answer for “why?” was that in those days England had a King who was crazy and mean to us.

In the excitement of the fireworks, my grandson yells out, “Happy Birthday America! How ya doin’America?” Since it wasn’t one of those questions that required an answer I just shared in his joy and excitement.

I find myself pondering what answer I might give him had he required one. So, So America? Better than under Bush, America? Still trying to form a more perfect union that treats all people equally? Lucky to be born here? I sometimes worry that telling kids about the classic American Dream is too much like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Then I think every kids deserves to have a dream. I need an honest answer that makes sense both to me and to a soon to be six year old. I need help with this.