Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Naomi and Hannah were anticipating the Fourth of July celebration ever since they remembered that July is the month that follows June. "We're going to go see fireworks!" Hannah informed Toby. "You'll like fireworks! They make a loud BOOM!" And after that cat slipped out of the bag Toby wouldn't stop asking if today was the day we were going to see fireworks.

When I laid him down for a nap on July 2nd he cried, "I not going nigh-night! I going to see fireworks! Makes loud noise!" I stretched the limits of his two-year-old brain by assuring him we would see fireworks together "the day after tomorrow." Thankfully, he fell asleep trying to figure that one out.

We tucked the kids in bed by 8:30pm on Sunday the 3rd and talked about seeing fireworks the next day. Then, with a phone call from my mother-in-law, I realized I had wrongly assumed that the show we'd been planning on seeing as a family was on the 4th. It was actually set for 10:15 that night, in less than two hours. Frantically, I gathered diapers, wipes, snacks, sippy cups, blankets, sweatshirts, bug spray, a double stroller, and a wagon. I scoped out the best place to park and walk online, then Matt and I loaded four very excited children into the van, still in their pajamas.

We arrived a little after 9:30pm, but ended up having to park 3/4 of a mile away, a bit farther than I'd planned. With Toby and Emma in the stroller, and our enormous pile of supplies in the wagon we began the speed-walk race to the show with Naomi and Hannah skipping ahead. "Oooohhhh!" Hannah squealed, each time someone in the neighborhood lit off one of their own fireworks. "This really is the Fourth of July! It really is, because those are fireworks. I know because they make that loud boom, and they look like real fire! Real fire, Emma, see? So I know it's the Fourth of July! It really is! And we're going to see more fireworks, even bigger ones, and....Ooooohhh! There's another one! Did you see that Naomi? Mommy, did you see that? That was a real firework! It looks just like real fire!"

I wasn't sure whether my legs or my ears were more tired by the time we found our place among the throngs and settled down on our blankets. Fortunately, the crowds of moving, chatting people decked out in glowing necklaces entranced my children, and even Hannah found herself speechless. Even better, every mosquito in the city seemed to have already drunk its fill by the time we arrived and I was spared the ordeal of bug spraying the kids. I distributed baggies of apple slices and we quietly munched as the sunset disappeared.

Naomi squinted and covered her eyes as the first few flares lit up the sky. "It's too bright," she complained, backing off our blanket a few feet, as if that extra yard would protect her eyes from the light. Toby quickly scrambled into the safety of my lap, then sat happily mesmerized with the show. Hannah and Emma's faces glowed as they smiled quietly at the colorful sky. One of the first loud "Booms" set the tiny baby in my tummy kicking and squirming. I had just read about how hearing and reflexes were intact by this point in my pregnancy, and I've no doubt that little boy was startled by the sound. I snuggled Toby in close over my tummy to muffle the noise for his little brother.

"Look at Toby," I whispered, nudging Matt beside me. Toby had suddenly reached both hands high into the sky above him and silently held them there. We chuckled a little, then Toby gasped, straining his little voice, "I can't reach them!"

It was a spectacular show, but, of course, over too soon. We packed up and quietly made our way through the crowds. It wasn't until we were walking again through the dark, less crowded neighborhood that Hannah found her voice. "Those sure were fireworks!" she sighed. "Maybe we'll still see some more. Maybe more people aren't done with them yet. Oooohhhh! There's one! See? I told you there would be more fireworks still. The Fourth of July isn't over yet, because it isn't really even the Fourth of July yet. It's only the third today. So the fireworks aren't done. I'm glad, because I like the Fourth of July. Right, Emma?" But Emma was already sound asleep in the stroller. "Well, right, Toby?"

"Makes loud noise!" Toby agreed.

"We'll probably see some more in Grandma Eby's neighborhood tomorrow," I reassured Hannah. "And we'll have a cookout, and you can go swimming."

"I just can't wait!" Hannah squealed. She was not disappointed, and now we have fuel for the imagination for a whole nother year.

Today, if you visited my house you would hear little girls asking each other, "Who wants to pretend seeing fireworks? How about Narnian fireworks?! I bet they have fireworks in Narnia!"

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