The 4th of July started out in its usual pattern at our house. Dave took the boys to buy fireworks in the morning, they spent all day thinking and talking about fireworks, and then as dusk approached, darkness sifting over the world one agonizing shade at a time, anticipation roused to a fever pitch until at last it was time to light things on fire.
The main difference this year was that we had a baby. A walking baby. Who it was my job to manage.
For the first two fireworks she was content to hang out with me, pointing and gabbling wildly about the incredible things she was seeing — bright colored light! Spinning things! Sparks! Initial observations over, she needless to say wanted to proceed to the next step of her explorations, i.e. grabbing the glowing things and putting them in her mouth. But I, for some reason unfathomable to a nearly-one-year-old mind, refused to let her do so.
Oh, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I cannot say it was the most relaxing fireworks evening I’ve ever spent. The phrase “constant vigilance” comes to mind, as it took nearly twenty minutes for her to accept our decree. This unprecedented refusal to allow her to explore something — something, moreover, so unique and exciting — brought her as close to a tantrum as I’ve ever seen. She wanted so desperately to grab those lights, and in between struggling to get away from me she would turn into my shoulder and yell in frustration, crying big baby tears. I tried taking her back into the house but that seemed just as bad — she could hear things going on out there, and no amount of playing or chocolate chips (for this third baby I am not above resorting to chocolate) could distract her from the activity.
Eventually she did become somewhat reconciled, and her attempts to experience the fireworks firsthand became half-hearted. And eventually (I saw with relief) the box of fireworks was used up, the last sparkler had been lit, and the rest of the family went off on the annual 4th of July walk to see what everyone else was doing.
Mica and I stayed home and went to bed. We’d earned it.