For the last four years, we’ve spent the evening of July 4th driving to DeKalb to watch their fireworks display. It’s held in Hopkins Park, and draws lots of people. For that reason, we park at a shopping center nearby and set up lawn chairs and blankets. It’s not that I’m agoraphobic (well, actually I am); it ‘s just easier to avoid the traffic snarl from hell that follows the show.
My July 4th’s are usually filled with working around the house. This year was no exception. Since the time we moved in 14 months ago, my garage has been a shambles. I attempted to organize it once, when I built new shelving and moved everything from the left side to the right side. Yet, it never fails that other people’s “shit” gets tossed willy-nilly onto my organized shelving. Sadly, most of it is my shit, and I am the most guilty of grabbing a tool and then putting it back wherever I find an open space as opposed to putting it back where it belongs.
I started the massive reorganization just before 9:00 a.m., and finished just before 4:00 p.m. This was a messy garage. I then mowed the lawn and grilled burgers for our Independence Day dinner. As we approach departure time for fireworks, I feel the dread in my soul. I truly dislike crowds. I’d rather stay home, drink a few beers, and enjoy watching the fireflies in my backyard. But because I’m working on providing the idyllic life for my children, we go see the fireworks.
Lately, my kids have noticed that we keep them on a shorter leash than other kids. Our oldest has challenged us on this, and my response is usually a form of “just because Bobby Jo gets to play in the street doesn’t mean you get to. Some parents don’t make the best choices for their kids, and you have to follow our rules.” If I were 10 years old, I would probably think this is a bogus answer. And it is.
Sometimes you need pictures to go with the words in order to get your kids to understand what you are talking about.
As we were waiting for the fireworks to begin, I noticed that a family shooting off Roman Candles down the way. It appeared to be a father and mother and a little boy, perhaps all of 4 years old. I pointed out to my kids that 1) Roman Candles are illegal in our state, 2) shooting off Roman Candles in a public place without access to water or first aid is a foolish thing to do, and 3) even though we were not experiencing drought conditions, a fire could start that would threaten many of the people who were sitting nearby.
As the fireworks begin, the family was still shooting off the Roman candles. Looking down the street, I saw that the little boy was holding the Roman candle. Now I know that this is common behavior for adults, and although I’ve never done it (I’m a sissy), I have even witnessed young men have “fire fights” with Roman candles; actually pointing them at each other in some sort of Darwinian contest of Natural Selection. Because this is 2006, it never occurred to me that anyone would allow a 4-year-old child to hold a Roman candle while it was going off.
I nudged my two kids and pointed out this stupidity. I said, “Think what could go wrong here. The little boy could decide to look into the end of the Roman candle and lose one or both eyes, or he could point it at his Dad and badly burn him. Some parents make bad choices for their kids. Do you understand what I’m talking about?”
Thankfully, both my kids are smart. My son asked my what would happen if the Roman candle went off in the little boy’s face. I told him that he would have to go the hospital, that his face may be scarred for life, and he might never be able to see again. He asked what would happen to the boy’s father. I told him that he would eventually go to jail, but not before Uncle Dale and I ran down there and beat the tar out of him.