Thus it will ever be called and pronounced in our household, thanks to The Wild Man. Around two-years-old he came alive to the realization of Independence Day, The 4th of July. And we're corny enough to still use his tiny-boy description. Do you do that? Do you continue to call anything by the name your kiddos dubbed it when they couldn't quite pronounce things? Bo called french fries "ep-ripes." So, that was what we called them for awhile. TWM came along and they were "eye-yies" ("yies" rhymes with eye - just couldn't figure out how to spell it.) Consequently, we occasionally say we're goin' to In-N-Out for cheeseburgers and aye-yies, or ep-ripes. Maybe we can't let go of their babyhood. I'm okay with that.
The Foursh-a-Guh-Lie was TWM's day. He dreaded it like a root canal and looked forward to it like Christmas. When he was two and three and we went to big displays, he cried through the whole thing and clung to his dad like I cling to the memory of being a size 3 (I was once, for half-an-hour, and you'll never take it from me!). He screamed and ducked while we assured him he was perfectly safe. As soon as he got in the car, he asked when we got to go again. Ah, that's my boy. Much of his life has included the old love/hate relationship. He takes after his mother.
The next year when he was four, we took him to Buchanan high school where they were putting on their first fireworks display. We set the blankets out and tried to peel our son off long enough for him to enjoy the bang and pow of it all. He held us in death grips. Whoever ran the operation had not accounted for the burning cinders that fall from the sky and had set up the firing point far too close to the crowd. We were in the path of Pompeii. As curled up pieces of burning paper floated to the ground and the occasional chunk of cinder landed on the beach blanket, Grizzly and I shot each other looks knowing that if we ran, he would be forever scarred. So, we silently weighed physical scars against emotional ones, and stayed put. Bo got into the action and helped us stamp out the little coals as we all assured him it was perfectly wonderful and nothing could be more normal. I must say, we haven't been back to Buchanan since, though we're considering it tonight.
Girzzly was always into fireworks and TWM couldn't wait until the stands went up. He watched for them weeks in advance and marked their coming with the exultation of a Kodiak bear during a salmon run. Bo was pretty excited herself and was ready to fork out her little dough for the promise of sound and colors and fire. I was the dud and wondered why people would spend wads of money on things that would burn in a matter of minutes. It seemed nuts but my big kid influenced my little kids and I could either join in the fun or get over myself. I embraced the latter.
For years we met the neighbors out in the street and had a quasi-block party of it. Then the main neighbor stopped participating and things sort of fizzled. Also, our firecrackers from New Mexico were offered up to the fire gods (also known as the local police - however, they do much good so of course, we love them! Do you hear that, local police?!) one year. They had been sitting at the end of the block with their lights off and when they heard them, they pulled up and stuck out their hands. They then went home with them and maybe some of their famlies got to use them. I like to think so. At least they would be put to good use.
You have to be careful because nearly everything is illegal in California and the police are charged with making sure we all know it. If you live here, you try to accept being boiled alive slowly, like that proverbial frog, and protected from yourself endlessly. For years you couldn't even get those little, black things we called "worms" when I was a kid. You know the tiny discs you lit with a match and they grew and grew in crazy long shapes? Those were downright deadly, I guess. I think the movie "Tremors" was based on their wanton thirst for human flesh. What other reason could there be? (We got them back a few years ago.)
We continue to be thrilled and amazed we still get to light matches here. But we do. And that was another right-of-passage.
Grizzly was working out of town when one 4th came along and Bo was certain they could handle the fire part of the works. One neighbor joined in for a bit while Bo and TWM duked it out over who should serve as fire king or queen. They are so precious together. :) Soon, another neighbor showed up and his bossy kid outbossed my kids and we couldn't get our hands on our own fireworks. Where's a husband when you need one?
Then we started celebrating with friends at a party where we all chipped in for a fireworks display. Soon, that party got moved to the home of other friends (the husband being one of the police officers we know and love) and then we just watched fireworks from the distant country advantage of a very dark night sky and no personal displays. The fire danger is too high out there. But the fun and friend factor is also high with 50-70 of our closest friends so the kids have usually voted to say good-bye to the displays and hello to socializing. But we still bought a few things and lit them up when we got home.
I don't know this year, though. This was the first year TWM wasn't counting his change and took the erecting of the stands in his stride. No big deal. What? What does that mean? This is HIS DAY! Have we kept him from the thrill for too long? This makes me ambivalent about the party. One fire-fanatic is grown and the other is on his way and taller than I am. I may need to revisit Pompeii and remind them of the former days with a night-sky rush. This ISN'T just another day, after all. It's Independence Day. It's the Foursh-a-Guh-Lie!
I have a little pang. Is there any way we can do both? I'll let you know.