For the past three years, I have spent the Fourth of July with my second family - Kelly, Dave, and the munchkins. As you know, they are some of my very favorite people in the world, and I love getting to share the holiday with them them. (I won it in the divorce, you know. Their first family, that is, the grandparents, got Christmas and Thanksgiving. I got Easter and the Fourth of July.)
Growing up, the Fourth was a highly celebrated holiday for my family. We'd trek out to Fred Medlin's, eat freshly caught Crappie, play music all day, and watch fireworks at night. I loved the fireworks.
It never really occurred to me how many different ways there were to enjoy fireworks, though, until I started spending this holiday with people other than my parents. I was, as usual, wrong in assuming that fireworks were equally enjoyable for everyone. Let me explain.
Four Species of Fireworks-Watchers
1. The Photographer
Me? I think they're pretty. I like to watch them - but I don't set them off. Nope. I don't hold them. I don't shoot them. I try to keep a safe distance from them. This point was drilled into me by my parents, and it stuck. These days, I love fireworks for the photography challenge. It took me a long time to learn how to properly photograph them, and every year, I get better at it. This year, I managed to shoot them without a tripod. I'll spare you the full specs, but needless to say, I'm extremely proud of myself.
2. The Launcher
This would be Dave's category. I haven't actually spoken to him about his fireworks watching preferences, but as this is the part he does every year, I think it's safe to assume that he enjoys it. Besides, I have it on good authority that he used to be a firebug.
3. The Watcher
Kelly falls into this category. So does the littlest munchkin. There is general oohing and ahhing. Some cooing and babbling (from the munch, not Kelly.) Baby girl LOVED fireworks, and it was a lot of fun getting to watch her watch them.
4. The Screamer
Her brother, on the other hand? My little Monkey Boy? Not a fan. I repeat: Not a fan! He didn't like them last year, and he continued not to like them this year. Any and all attempts to show him a firework larger in size than a Roman candle was met with ear-piercing screams of "I'm scared! I don't LIKE fireworks! I wanna go back INSIDE," as well as a death grip on the doorframe, should anyone try to forcibly remove him from the safety of the garage.
Maybe it's just the noise. Maybe the sight of fire raining from the sky is a little much for him He does love to watch them from inside, behind the window, or on the television. He thinks they look really cool. But he just doesn't want to watch them outside.
I watched fireworks with the little munch for awhile, and then went into the house to watch some more on the TV with the Monkey. And while I enjoyed seeing the happy, smiling, cooing baby, I think I enjoyed the time I spent inside, on the couch, even more. See, I know what it's like to not enjoy something that other people think you should enjoy. I completely understand the desire to stay inside and watch things from a distance. When I first went inside, it was my inclination to say all the standards. "They can't hurt you, buddy." "It's just noise, and noise isn't dangerous." And then I remembered how much I hated it when people said those things to me in the face of my own fears. "Mold isn't scary." "Panic attacks can't hurt you." "It's just anxiety, it isn't dangerous." If he is afraid of fireworks, then I respect that. If he never learns to like them, then we'll just have to find a new kind of tradition. And if, next year, he thinks they're the coolest thing ever? Well then, I suppose, I'll have to start teaching him about F-stops, exposure lengths, and camera shake. If I don't, he might take after his daddy... and I'm not sure my heart could handle watching him turn into a launcher.
On second thought, maybe this fear of fireworks isn't such a bad thing...
Happy Fourth (albeit a few days late) everyone!