Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lessons in Americana

Ah, there's nothing more American than parades. Gather your friends and family, every captain's chair you own, and camp out along the parade route to enjoy and appreciate the effort put into all those crazy floats. Oh, who are we kidding - we go for the candy.

This past Friday our city held the Rochesterfest parade. Rain threatened to cancel it all day so we weren't sure we were going until an hour before, particularly since my brother threw out a nasty rumor that they don't give away candy at parades anymore. No candy? What's the point? No wait, they just don't throw candy. They pass it out. Ok, get the captain's chairs.

Since we left in a hurry, we didn't get dinner aside from the one apple I cut up and threw in my bag along with the remnants of a box of graham crackers. Let's face it - without a Biblical miracle, that's not going to sustain four adults and two kids. We saw a little girl with a hot dog. We debated taking it from her but decided the better, more mature thing to do would be to find the source of the hot dogs.

Erik and Christopher ventured off to find food and my mom and I found some spots right on the road. If you have kids, you have to be right on the curb, or you might as well go home. After the boys returned with free hot dogs, drinks and chips, thanks to a local church group, we settled in. What we didn't know was that our children were completely unversed in how to do parades. I forget sometimes that growing up overseas has its casualties, like the fact that my seven year old son only this year learned how to swing by himself (Asia has a severe swing shortage). But can you really blame my kids for not picking up on this right away? At parades, you're asking your children to step out in the street where there are moving vehicles to accept candy from perfect strangers. And be obnoxious about it if necessary. That's a hard mental transition to make.

Once we convinced them it was ok to go in the street, they just stood there. We kept saying, "Wave kids! Smile! Jump up and down! Hold out your hands!!!" to the point where our neighbors started looking at us funny. Being next to my brother, who is one of the funniest people I know, brought out the life in me too. I waved enthusiastically at every person on those floats, danced with the Treasure Island casino people while begging them for cheap bead necklaces. I screamed and hollered. It's a bit how I imagine I might act if I were ever drunk. Which is why I've never chosen to be drunk - I can have just as much fun this way and still remember it.

It took awhile, but by the end of the parade our kids had mastered this new skill, and had a lot of fun in the process. Unfortunately I didn't think there was any need to bring a camera so I can show you their progress. They are now real Americans who can hold their heads and their gigantic bags of candy up high.

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