Usually the 4th of July is spent at home with a few sparklers and a movie and a fairly early night. That at least was our city 4th of July. Before we had a kid we would sometimes trek over to someone's house in Belltown or Capitol Hill to watch the fireworks over Elliott Bay but the traffic was always horrible. And I learned my lesson about watching city fireworks somewhere outside (other than a heavily policed city park) because inevitably those random public look-outs would be filled with bozos with cherry bombs. In fact about fifteen years ago I vowed to not try to drive anywhere on the 4th if I didn't have to after some little prick tried to throw a cherry bomb under our moving car down by Eastlake around midnight. Luckily, we had just driven over it before it exploded behind us.
So, I was a little worried about this year's experience seeing as we live a few hundred feet from unincorporated Snohomish County. The bombs started last night all around us (well, mostly on the Snohomish County side since fireworks are still illegal in the town we're in). I did buy the obligatory sparklers at a fire work stand down the street (obviously on the Snohomish County side of down the street). From a church. Yes, it was a church fireworks stand. They had a prayer request box next to the cash register so I put in a request for an old friend, Cheryl who is battling cancer and for Sinatra. I probably should've put in a prayer request for my nerves tonight.
First we had a potluck with just about the best BBQ'ed ribs ever from JK and SF and JK's brothers. And some crazy fattening Mac & Cheese with whole cream and fancy cheese. And my potato salad (which I'm happy to say was a hit!). And god knows what else heavy fatty thing. Needless to say I have a stomach ache. Anyway, I told all the dads I was scared of fireworks so just don't mind me when I freak out and run home with my child and huddle in our house. They had bought their arsenals but I figured how scary could it be? It'll probably only the small stuff like we had when I was a kid that the dads shot off at the beach.
Then JK's cousin and his family show up. SF (JK's wife says) "Oh, JK's cousin from the 'hood is here. He'll probably really scare you." He's got a truck full of explosive things and one of those giant rocker launcher things like on the barges during the city fireworks displays. He's also got a brood of little gangsta kids with attitude and a harem of hot women in mini-skirts and super high wedgies. I was really bummed.
I ended up hiding inside not from JK's cousin, but from some other grown-ups lighting off the little stuff that just spins and shoots on the ground - but so many of the little kids were running too close, or running up to them after they'd stopped spinning and shooting off sparks and I could just see so many accidents waiting to happen. I know those fireworks are supposed to be "safer" but there are still so many ways that little kids can get hurt running around them in bare feet. So, lest I make my neighbors all hate me by fretting them to death and showing my true neurotic side, I went inside to check on the kittens for awhile.
Kittens were doing fine so I wandered back out as the sun started going down and to my horror one of JK's cousin's kids was lighting off those little fountain fireworks for everyone. He couldn't have been more than twelve and I was horrified. Until I watched for a little bit and saw that he was actually keeping the other kids in line - even the teenagers that were older than him. SF came over and said it was just so weird to her that his dad let him do that and I pointed out that he was being very safe and trying to keep the other kids in line - probably with more success than if an adult was trying to keep them in line. I ended up wishing that all the kids were like that little boy - then I wouldn't have to be so nervous!
I talked to JK's cousin for a bit and said I was impressed with how mature his son was and safety conscious and he said he worked hard on that and his wife who was standing nearby agreed. I realized I really liked the "cousins from the 'hood" because even though they had the giant, scary fireworks, the dad obviously took the whole thing very seriously. I told him I had to go in with my daughter soon because I was tired and way too anxious, but I showed him where our house was and how our window had a straight shot view of the fireworks. He said, "Well, when you see the super high in the air ones that are really loud and non-stop, that's me, ok?" I thought he was just bragging.
But an hour later when the sun was totally down and me and my daughter were watching from our bedroom window, the fireworks started that seriously could've given the old Ivar's display a run for the money. It was really that good! And it was right outside my window! I have to admit, it was really cool. I'm still concerned it's not the safest place to do it because of all the houses and the forest nearby, but nothing caught on fire. So, maybe I'm not so scared of fireworks if I'm hanging around JK's cousin and the rest of JK's family. And the other dads were being really responsible too. Some of the teens not so much but the dads (and Jk's cousin's son) mostly kept them in line.
It just reminded me that like guns, I'm not scared of fireworks, I'm scared of bozos with fireworks. I realized years ago after taking my long weekend gun safety course in Onalaska that I'm not at all scared of guns - just bozos with guns. And sadly, everyone is a potential bozo in my eyes until proven otherwise if explosive are involved.
The other weird (totally hippie) thing, is that my daughter asked me why we shoot off fireworks on the 4th. I said it was to symbolize the war that we won to become an independent country, but then I had to explain to her that war is a really horrible thing. And the bombs going off back then were not pretty like the fireworks tonight. They were scary and dangerous. And that makes me feel very solemn and I start thinking about all the soldiers nowdays killed in wars. So, this whole celebrating by simulating war thing kind of makes me feel weird and sad.