It's late, dark, and the echoes of fireworks still sound like popcorn coming from the valley floor below us. My oldest son has just hung up his corduroy jacket and headed back to bed, but not before a big giant hug and sparking eyes, and the comment, "This was the best fireworks year ever..."
For the last 10 years, Dan and I have gone to the fireworks display in our old town. There is lots of space to lay out in the field at the school and watch the personal fireworks from the homes on the surrounding hills and then the community fireworks display at the park. It's fairly impressive for the small area, and I love the "hometown" feel of it. And two days ago, we still planned on maintaining our tradition.
Then last night we decided to go to a rodeo, and knew that it would be a late night for the boys (3-4 hours past their usual bedtime). We were more than a little nervous about two late nights in a row. So, we decided to stay and watch the fireworks that directly followed the last rodeo event, with the understanding that we would just stay home tonight. The fireworks were great, and it felt oh-so-patriotic to be watching our Independence Day fireworks from a rodeo, while "God Bless the USA" plays over the loudspeaker. Our little one held his hands over his ears, and waited for it to be over. But the big one? He was in love.
Tonight, in keeping with the adjusted plan, we had some friends over for dinner and playtime. After all the running and building and bike riding, I expected that the boys would crash within moments of going to bed, and be asleep long before fireworks around the neighborhood began. It didn't exactly work like that.
An hour and a half later, the boys were still up and giggling, and the fireworks began to go off. I went outside to find that the view from our street allowed us to see not only Mt. St. Helens, but also large sections of our town and the town across the river. And everywhere I looked, there were huge, giant fireworks going off. It was pretty cool. And, well, the boys were still awake. And I didn't want them to miss any of it. So I went and got them out of bed.
The little one watched for about 5 minutes before he and Daddy went back in to help him fall asleep. The big one and I? We stayed outside for another hour. We walked around the neighborhood in bare feet to see what was being lit right around the corner. We checked out the view from every vantage point in our empty cul-de-sac. And he talked almost the entire time. His eyes sparkled brightly, the grin never left his face. And at one point he said, "Mama, I could just stay out here with you forever." That alone made all my weak attempts at getting him back to bed feel like a huge, wasted opportunity. So we sat in the grass, watched the bright lights overhead, and talked.
I know it's silly, but I have always found fireworks to be romantic. It's that whole "at the county fair with a cowboy on the ferris wheel" Americana thing. But tonight there was a whole other kind of love there. I never want to forget those moments with my big kid, oohing and ahhing over explosions and finding a kindred spirit who loves fireworks as much as I do. Especially in these years before it becomes about the fire and danger and excitement - because tonight, it was still all about magic and beauty.
It's nights like this when every fiber in my being sighs, relaxes, and knows that all is very right in my world. Fireworks and magic and little boys and their mamas. Doesn't get much better.