My eight-year-old son Lucas began nagging us about buying fireworks the second he realized the 4th of July was imminent. So… in May. My husband and I told him again and again that it was wayyyy too soon to buy fireworks and that we’d buy them closer to the actual date.

Then we received a catalog in the mail advertising a buy-one-get-one sale on fireworks just down the road from our house. Lucas gravitated towards it like a planet to a black hole and immediately lost his mind with delight. He carefully crafted a shopping list, mindfully avoiding big-ticket items like the giant pre-wrapped packages they sell for $300, so as to improve his chances of actually getting what he wanted.

But it was still only the beginning of June. My husband and I both did our best to explain to him that it was still too early, and he needed to be patient. But his incessant nagging got to the point that I had to threaten him that if he asked one more time, there would be no fireworks this year.

He obeyed, but it was obviously painful for him. He paced back and forth on the edge of my peripheral vision and circled the kitchen island lost in thought, clearly racking his brain trying to come up with ways to ask “can we buy fireworks now???” without actually using the word “fireworks.”

At some point, my husband made the mistake of telling Lucas that maybe we would go fireworks-shopping that coming Sunday. That would have put us at June 15th – still pretty early for firework-acquisition. But when Sunday came, my husband ended up having to work from home all day and was forced to brush Lucas off… sending him to me.

But I was busy too, doing house-hold chores. So when Lucas asked if I could take him fireworks-shopping, I brushed him off just as his father had done. Again I reminded him that we still had plenty of time; there were still nearly three weeks left until the 4th of July. When he whined that my husband had “promised” to take him, I finally snapped at him and told him to go to his room, that I was sick of hearing about the stupid fireworks. I said he was acting spoiled and ordered him not to say another word about it.

About fifteen minutes after Lucas had retreated to his room, my four-year-old daughter Mari appeared with a delivery for me. It was a note from Lucas, accompanied by a drawing he had done:

Lucas fireworks

Lucas fireworks pic

I read his sweet letter and my gut twisted with guilt over pushing him off so harshly. Mari returned to Lucas’ room, and I heard him whisper, “Did you give it to her?”

“Yes.”

“Did she read it?”

“I think so.”

“What did she say?”

“She didn’t say anything yet.”

I sighed. “Lucas! Come down!”

When he came down the stairs he was crying silently and looking very nervous. Eyes downcast, he clasped and unclasped his little-boy fingers. I had been ready to give him yet another lecture on patience, but then, like a freight-train, it hit me: Lucas’ impatience over the fireworks wasn’t about being spoiled or materialistic; it was about boyhood enthusiasm. That beautiful, heart-filling anticipation that only children are capable of experiencing to its fullest. That feeling is one of those irretrievable childhood joys that we tend to outgrow as the cynicism of adulthood takes over. Lucas had been dreaming of loud bangs and colors filling the sky, and I’d been snarling at him and sending him to his room. I pulled him in for a hug and felt his bony little shoulders heave with relief that he might finally be understood.

“Get your shoes on,” I whispered into his ear. “We’re going to go buy some fireworks.”

28 Comments

    • It’s so easy to roll our eyes at them, because it’s not really that exciting for US. I’m gonna do better at this if it kills me. xo

    • Yeah, we can tell the difference though, if we’re really paying attention. That’s the hard part though, isn’t it? 😛

  1. I’d have reacted the same way, and you’re dead right–they’re just excited. But I do get sick of hearing about [Minecraft/fireworks/topic du jour] constantly. Still, I’m going to try to remember this next time I’m tempted to tell them to stifle it about whatever they’re on about.

  2. What the fuck with all of the TEARS today. This is gorgeous and aware and all sorts of YES. They’re just kids, right? They’re just kids.

  3. Joseph Nucci Reply

    It is a shame we tend to lose that childhood delight. Happy to hear you got your fireworks.

  4. He’s lucky you’re not in Chicago! It’s illegal for personal use! (It = Fireworks) 😉

  5. Karen Flint Reply

    OMG!!! You just made me cry!!! Thanks for being the best (well one of the best-can’t forget your sister) mom’s ever! Thanks for caring and loving my grandson enough to get his uncensored excitement for fireworks!!! Love you

  6. That is SO CUTE! And another difference between my oldest, a boy, and my young girls. My boy too LOVED fireworks, explosions, anything loud, colorful, smokey, noisy, etc. My girls? HATE fireworks!
    Well, they will watch a VIDEO of fireworks but only if the sound is turned off 🙂 My middle child, she’s now 4 yrs old, has always hated loud noises, and fireworks make her shake like a dog during….well, during the 4th of July. We joke that mayhaps she was a firefighter in a past life and died of a fireworks mishap. I know, not something to joke about, but your kid freaks about insignificant little weird stuff, you do what you have to get through, right? 🙂
    BOYS are so much more fun!

    • My husband had a fireworks mishap in his pants pocket when he was eight – he ruined his mom and dad’s New Year’s Eve part! True story, and he still has the scar to prove it! lol

  7. I can’t believe you gave in!!! However, Lucas is quite the artist. Do you think he’s available for my Tinder Tuesdays drawings?

    His drawing of the fireworks are a bit phallic….and it’s awesome!

    • Have you seen the “totem pole” he molded out of clay for a social studies project last year? It’s famous. 😉

  8. Everyone is crying ( myself included) because you have told a story that every mom can relate to. Keep that lesson close to the surface and you will remember when it gets close to happening again and maybe you can avoid it

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