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Independence Day, Part 2

In my last post, I shared the rules my family put together for our first ever Independence Day – a day when the girls got to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, but had to be totally independent. They had to feed themselves, clean up after themselves, and if they wanted to go somewhere they had to get there under their own power and spend their own money.

So this past Monday we had our Independence Day, and let me tell you, it was a glorious thing.

First off, our top rule: no waking Mommy and Daddy. Unless the house was on fire.

When we finally stumbled downstairs at 9 a.m. (NINE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING!) we found the girls sitting on the couch watching a movie and eating candy. “Have you had breakfast?” I asked.

“No,” Maddie replied, “We wanted bagels and we knew we couldn’t use the sharp knives to cut them so we waited for you.”

Apparently Maddie woke her sister at 7 a.m. – couldn’t wait any longer – and they got down to business right away, snacking and watching Cyberchase for about an hour before picking out a movie.

But did you catch the part where they didn’t wake us up? It was beautiful.

After they ate their bagels –while watching the movie – I checked the weather and told the girls if they wanted to ride their bikes anywhere they’d best do it soon, since rain was imminent. This? Was big news, because they’d been planning Junk Food Run for a looong time.

The girls quickly got dressed – as did Mommy and Daddy, who of course followed them on bikes as they went out. Maddie and Cora argued about the destination: Cora wanted to hit Walgreens for candy because it is next to a local ice cream store and they could buy ice cream for later, but Maddie thought the big grocery store would have a larger candy aisle and a “decent” ice cream selection. In the end, expediency won and with Walgreens being closer, they settled on the drugstore.

If I could, I would buy the surveillance footage from that Walgreens for that morning. It was the cutest darn half-hour I’ve ever spent there. Both girls brought their cash, and sat down on the Walgreens floor crunching numbers and running scenarios. “This candy section is 3/$3, so I could get three big boxes for $3, but I don’t want three of this kind of candy. Those are only 2 for $3, but those are better candies.”

And so on.

They prowled the whole grocery section, making sure they hadn’t missed a lollipop display or end cap of gummy bears. The wandered to the refrigerated section and discovered pints of ice cream, quickly cutting the trip to the ice cream store so they could get home sooner and get started on that sugar coma. They perused the beverages, Cora settling on an organic apple juice and Maddie selecting a half-gallon (!) of organic lemonade. As she pulled out the lemonade, committing to spending $3.99 on it, she said, “Boy, you really need to make a budget when you grocery shop! Especially when it’s your own money!”

The clerk worked hard to bury her disapproval of the mound ‘o sugar piled in front of her, and Brian and I stared blandly at her.

Yes, we’re those parents.

We rode quickly home and the girls crowed over their stashes. Cora ended up with a pint of strawberry ice cream; a bag of Lifesaver gummes; a movie-theatre-size box of Airheads; a jumbo lollipop ring; a pint of apple juice;and a jumbo blow-pop. Maddie went crazy, buying a half-gallon of lemonade; Two movie-theatre boxes of Nerds; one movie-theatre-size box of gobstoppers; one movie-theatre-sized box of lemonheads; one movie-theatre-size box of Whoppers; one movie-theatre-size box of airheads, and a pint of mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

And they started eating, and didn’t stop.

The girls spent pretty much the rest of the day on the couch, watching a movie marathon and eating a candy marathon. And the most amazing thing of all? They did not fight. Once. I’m telling you, I can’t figure it out; they bicker all the time, and I was sure sugar would just make it worse. But they were amiable and happy as clams sprawled on the couch.

They did take a 10-minute play break, and paused briefly to make mac-n-cheese for their dinners. Maddie even asked me to cut up an apple for her. But otherwise it was movies-and-candy. And then do it again.

At bedtime, I lay in bed with Cora, reading a book with her. It's a vintage children's lit book from the 50's - she LOVES them and got several more for her birthday (thank you ebay). At the end of each story there's a short set of ridiculously easy questions. I read the first question to Cora: "Which friend of the duck said he makes his home near the pond?"

Cora sat there for a second and said, "I don't want to do the question things tonight. They're too hard."

My kids' IQs dropped 20 points each that day, I swear.

We had the inevitable difficulty getting up the next day, with the Mother of All Sugar Hangovers, but both girls were pretty good-natured about it and happily drank a ton of water to help detox. And they’ve both mused this week about how long the junk food affected their digestive system from start to, ahem, finish, and wondered aloud at how they might do things differently next time.

For there WILL be a next time. Seriously? I napped, caught up on HOURS of computer work, read a book – it was AWESOME.

Independence Day rocks.


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