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Did we miss the Fourth of July?

April 21, 2008

by Jen Bakken

With the recent Highway 12 construction, getting around town has become a challenge at times.

Our lives behind the wheel have changed, and even children notice the difference.

When I finish my day at work, the usual routine is to drive the babysitter home. Each day, I pick her and the kids up, then drive about a mile to drop her off.

Normally, this isn’t a big hassle, and it only takes a couple minutes to drive the short distance.

Usually, I’m home rather quickly and have plenty of time to make supper and not be rushed.

However, a few times, we have become stuck in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic on River Street.

While we sit and attempt to make a left-hand turn onto Bridge Avenue, the drivetime can more than double.

The first time this happened, all you could see were cars, trucks, and semis from St. Peter’s Catholic Church all the way to the ball fields.

There were people standing on the sidewalk taking pictures with their cell phones of the unbelievable traffic.

My children even noticed that our usual quick trip was taking a very long time, and they began to look out the windows of the van.

They were both craning their necks to look around with a confused look in their eyes.

My son asked me why there were so many cars, why they weren’t moving, and wondered what was going on.

Witnessing cars in every direction and people standing around on the sidewalk was a curious sight to my children.

Suddenly, my daughter began to whimper. When asked what was wrong, she answered with tears in her eyes and a look of despair on her face, “Mommy, did we miss the Fourth of July?”

Poor thing, she automatically assumed that mommy had neglected to take her to the carnival.

I explained the road construction situation and told them what rush hour was.

I also reminded my daughter it was only April, and assured her that we hadn’t missed the carnival, parade, or fireworks.

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself, thinking that the only time my daughter has seen this many cars driving through town was during the Fourth of July.

To her, there was no other good explanation to what she was seeing out the windows of our vehicle.

I couldn’t stop the big grin that stretched across my face.

I suppose it’s a good thing to find something to smile about during the road construction.

I never realized how much my children pay attention while riding in the car.

Our normal trips around town aren’t as they used to be, and when different routes are taken, two voices pipe up from the backseat with, “Why are we going this way? This isn’t the way we go, silly mom!”

Hopefully, I will be able to set a good example for them and exercise patience throughout this time; even smile once in awhile.

And, hopefully, my daughter never has to miss the Fourth of July in Delano, because it would obviously be devastating to her.