Celebrate: Blowing Things Up #celebratelu

celebrate link up

Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration on her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.


I have many fine and necessary qualities as a parent, but fun isn’t one of them. I have to strive for fun. Strive to the point where I’m not fun anymore. Partly it’s a mom thing, but partly it’s a me thing.

Confession: I hate the 4th of July. It’s my birthday, and it’s nice that everyone always has the day off and there are parades and fireworks in my honor, but the whole day is so damned loud. Maybe there are places in the world where Americans aren’t going wild setting off firecrackers in their backyards, but I’ve never lived in one of those places. I love a sanctioned fireworks display, safely controlled presumably by people who know what they’re doing. It’s pretty, it’s over in twenty minutes, and we can all get on with our lives.


But that’s not what happens in people’s backyards. The fireworks go on and on and on.  It just seems so inconsiderate. What about the infants and small children who need to sleep? What about the dogs? What about the elderly? What about the military vets with PTSD? What about the people who have to get up at six a.m. tomorrow and go to work? I am totally that person who finds out what time fireworks are supposed to stop and starts calling the police on my neighbors as the numbers turn on the clock. (This year, it’s legal until 1 a.m.!)

And then there’s the fire fear. My mother did a wonderful job teaching me to be afraid of matches. And lighters. And sparklers.

I never, ever in a million years imagined that I would be one of those people setting off fireworks.

But parenting trauma sometimes calls for desperate measures.

My son has been running again this week, and there is nothing–NOTHING–more crazy-making to me. It’s silly to be so bothered by it when half the time he’s actually hidden himself somewhere in view of the house so that he can monitor how often I go out looking for him. But for whatever reason, it’s the one behavior that really pushes my buttons. We’d done everything we could think of to keep him home today. Video games, cupcakes for breakfast, visits from grandparents, movies, but he was getting antsy. I staved it off a little longer by predicting it. Reverse psychology always works like a charm–for awhile.

And then my husband had a brainstorm: fireworks. I was skeptical, but then he hooked me: “It will make us seem like a fun family.”

Parenting trauma also means that even super fun parents struggle to feel like a fun family. So when my husband promises to bring the fun, I always say yes. Even if I have serious doubts. Fireworks? Really?

I thought my son wouldn’t go for it. What we’ve mostly heard today is “No.” But I underestimated the teenaged boy’s appetite for explosions.

And so we headed out to the fireworks outlet, which was the most hopping place in town, and we stocked up.

Then we came home and watched some more tv and then went outside to set off firecrackers. And it was…. fun. It was also loud and obnoxious and terrifying and stinky. But there was a very real fun factor. Of course, the most fun part for me was watching my son’s face light up with joy as he blew stuff up. Boys. We took a break to go to the town fireworks display, then my son asked if he could blow some more stuff up. Yes!

“Don’t you feel good saying yes to me?” he asked.

“Oh, I do. I most certainly do.”


Today, I celebrate throwing caution to the wind and embracing a new motto: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Because sometimes all those people know what they’re talking about.








16 responses to “Celebrate: Blowing Things Up #celebratelu”

  1. Kendra Avatar

    All those things you said about Fireworks and Parenting? Yes. 🙂 I would need someone to bring the fun for me as well. There is much to celebrate when this happens. Finally, Happy Birthday!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Kendra. I’m pretty sure there’s a metaphor about parenting in this piece but I was too tired to draw it out! It would be nice to be more light-hearted, but hey, I yam who I yam.

  2. margaretsmn Avatar

    The smile was certainly worth it. I’m with you about the loudness and dangers of fireworks. I’ve hated them most of my life. My family reminded me of that as we walked back home from the fireworks display. Far away and lighting up the sky is beautiful. But too close and loud sends shivers up my spine. I do question the logic.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m glad I’m not the only one! I’m pretty sure I drove my son crazy cautioning him to step back and watch out for cars and don’t set that one off too close to the one that was already burned out.

  3. Linda Baie Avatar

    There was a time I remember that I loved them, was never scared, so when my own kids came along we did the whole thing, but unfortunately had to find a place that was legal. It isn’t legal here in Denver, although the fireworks are sold here-figure that out. It’s great you did it; look at that picture! Happy Birthday too, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Too funny that it isn’t legal in Denver but you can buy them. Many years here there are ordinances against them–too dry. I think my neighbors were trying to make up for the years they haven’t been able to shoot them off by going extra wild this year! Great picture, isn’t it? Love that smile.

  4. Andrea Payan (@payanar) Avatar

    I hear you with the fireworks! It is tame here on the 4th compared with being in Spain over New Years Eve. There they do not really enforce any kind of curfew so I have learned to be more patient with the noise in my neighborhood around the 4th of July. It sounds like fireworks were just the thing for your family to do to bring in the fun. That beautiful smile on your son’s face must have been so great to see.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It was wonderful to see, Andrea! How interesting that fireworks are a big thing in Spain at New Years. I’ve spent a few New Years in Europe, but I was in Belgium, and I don’t remember much special excitement!

  5. reedjudd Avatar

    My German Shepherd is the most protective dog I know, yet when fireworks are occurring throughout the neighborhood, he does nothing but lay in my lap from fear! When it’s firework season, my wife and I get no sleep!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Poor dog! My pit bull isn’t too happy with the fireworks either. Wasn’t sad for it to start raining tonight and be spared the leftover fireworks!

  6. Robert Custard Avatar
    Robert Custard

    If you think back yards are bad, one of my gaming community pals told me when he stayed in Mexico for a short while he spent $50 bucks and got almost 50lbs in fireworks. Literally, you offered someone $10 for some fireworks and the guy in the stand right next door would offer you double for the same amount of money.

    As for the “controlled displays”, some aren’t so controlled.:-) Our town always has ones that explode way to early because they buy the really really cheap stuff, and they usually have someone that likes pushing the fire button before everyone is clear and someone almost gets an aerial in the face.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh my goodness! I won’t be telling my son about that–he’ll want to head to Mexico immediately. We spent WAY more than I intended to spend and it still didn’t fully satisfy his urge to make loud booms. SIGH.

      1. Robert Custard Avatar
        Robert Custard

        I took out $20, because just a little while back that could get you a box of good stuff. The stand next to the gas station I always go to, it had I swear gouged prices. $20 bucks got a small bag full mostly with party papers, popit’s, and a few small fountains. All the good stuff I would have enjoyed back in the day were over $100+.

  7. Vasilly Avatar

    Happy belated birthday, Elisabeth! You and I are alike when it comes to fireworks. I also prefer a very quiet July 4th though that isn’t possible even though I live in a place where they’re illegal.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Vasilly! Some day, I’m going to be in a position to travel somewhere very quiet on my birthday where there are no fireworks. Of course, it will probably have to be a foreign country. But that’s ok with me! Even when we have an ordinance against fireworks because of fire danger, people still manage to buy them and set them off.

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