That time of year that will always represent, to me, that a whole cavalcade of kids will be parading down my street, heedless to my haphazard sleeping patterns, decked out in garish and sparkly bikes, oftentimes followed faithfully by a loyal dog, similarly festooned. A neighborhood parade organized by the sweetest, most soft-spoken woman in the area, someone who is so gentle and kind it is quite easy to forget she’s a highly intelligent lawyer. I remember when this first started, just a handful of kids parading down the streets for their neighbors, ending at the elementary school for a a picnic. We have since escalated. We have police officers in patrol cars, we have horses, we have a freaking miniature airplane, and we have the freaking mayor. We have a freaking neighborhood band, catered food, chili contests, water balloon tosses, egg tosses, water gun fights, homemade rootbeer, pet contests, bike contests, speeches. Everyone in the area knows about the 4th of July parade, and looks forward to it. It’s very community-central and camp and pretty much what you expect on the 4th.
Those who know me will affirm to the fact that my mother is a badass. She is a tough, hardcore woman who’s lived through a lot, survived a lot, and built herself the life she always wanted, with nothing more than her bull-headed stubborness and her strength of will. There are some that would say that this kind of affair would be exactly the one she would look at askance, that she would roll her eyes at and make sarcastic comments about. You would not be wrong. But, you would also not take into account the fact that my mother, badass though she is, is also a complete soft touch for certain things, namely animals. We joined the 4th of July parade organizers simply because one year there was a huge, shaggy dog that went right by our house one year, panting its little heart out, and my mother practically ran into the house to fetch it a bowl of water. Of course, this started her down the path of ‘well, what about the other dogs?’ and soon we became known, officially, as the ‘dog water providers’. And because our neighbor, as sweet as is she, is also exceedingly clever, she also managed to get my parents to start the pet judging contest, with them as the judges. And where our parents went, my brother and I were (often gently forced) to follow.
All of this has culminated in my mother, who is now the president of the Home Owner’s Association somehow (it would be more of an honor if the association wasn’t made up of four women and their husbands, or if it had actually involved a vote instead of my mother demanding, in her usual blunt way, if they wanted her to be president and their subsequent immediate agreement), being forced to make a little speech and present a gift to the mayor (she hates being the center of attention), while my father and I judge pets and hand out prizes to every one of them (strictly on my mother’s orders; ‘can you imagine dressing up your beloved pet, entering them in them in the neighborhood pet contest and not have them win something? Now divide your age in half.’) which she bought with her own money, excepting the pet beds, which she asked my aunt to make (since she owns a cat bed/toy business and makes them all herself) while my brother works the flavored ice machine (this sounds easy until you realize you have to grind all the ice by hand. Last year we ended up having a production line) while another table is set up for voting on what should be done with the neighborhood signs, which is being monitored by my aunt (who does not live in the neighborhood).
Why. Why mother, why. This is your fault, mother. Why.