Ka-Boom! Sizzle, sizzle, buzzzz. The night sky burst into colors that fanned out like willow trees and puffs of grey smoke billowed in the aftermath. I watched the lights twinkle behind the silhouette of my two oldest boys who’d climbed the low branches of a tree to get a better view. Our family was enjoying the spectacle from the next town’s fall festival at a friend’s backyard party. Fireworks in late September are great, if for no other reason than they start an hour earlier than they do in early July. For us parents of young children, timing is important, and it keeps us from really doing the full 4th of July festivities each year since the kids arrived on the scene.
The other issue has always been our boys’ fear of the fireworks. It pretty much ruins the whole experience when you’re afraid of the thing that you’re hoping to enjoy. It had been two years since we last tried taking in the light show, and I’m happy to report that it was finally great. Boys #1 & #2 weren’t scared, and #3 slept inside our friend’s house in the pack ‘n’ play. Every once in a while, the planets do align! As darkness fell, our well-prepared hosts handed out colorful glow sticks to all the kids. The kind that bend and can be made into necklaces or bracelets (or in our boys’ case, light sabers). A dozen little monsters danced through the twilight, a flurry of flourescent colors flying back and forth.
Today was one of the first days that it really felt like fall and you needed to break out all those cool weather clothes I love – Jeans, long-sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts and the like. There are always, however, operational difficulties managing that wardrobe transition – especially with the kids’ clothes. Getting ready for tonight’s gathering, I was given the exciting job of helping them get dressed in their fall clothes from the top of the closet. A minute into the task, I began feeling like a lost traveler attempting to decipher some ancient code. Pulling clothes out of boxes in the closet and matching up who fits into what and then getting them to agree on wearing them on all started looking like hieroglyphics. I need context. I need to have bought the clothes or at least put them away so I know what we’re dealing with – a lay of the land. All of which completely baffles and frustrates my wife who doesn’t understand what my problem is. Maybe it’s me but I’m guessing it’s a guy thing. I was mercifully relieved of my duties and we (ok, she) eventually did get the boys clothed and we headed out for our evening.
Upon arrival at the party, we found one of those huge bouncy houses like they have at carnivals in our friends’ backyard. The boys’ faces turned wild with excitement and they sprinted towards the inflatable joy (collision) maker. While they were thrilled, in the back of my mind I knew that this would come back to haunt me. The bouncy house rental is one of those mythical items about which I’ve been fending off requests from my wife for a while. After tonight, however, the seal was broken, so to speak, and I fear my argument has lost much of its air now that our friend had stepped up and made it happen. Thanks a lot dude.
As dusk settled on the backyard and everyone geared up for the fireworks show, I spied a tender moment with Josh that’s stuck with me. Some kids were playing on a playset under some trees in the near darkness, and a little four year old girl from Josh’s class was scared to go over into the shadows. Josh came up next to her and sweetly told her that it was OK and not to be scared. He didn’t know I’d seen him, and as I tucked him into bed tonight after we got home, I asked him about it and he gave me a knowing little smile. “I checked it out for her and there was really nothing scary so I told her it was OK” he explained to me. I told him it reminded me of a knight rescuing a princess and I was proud of him for being kind. He liked that.