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July 14, 2003

July 4th

I wrote this last week, never had the time to edit it. So you get it now.

The fireworks started ten minutes after we told Ngnat to close her eyes and go to sleep. The neighbors five doors down had stocked up on real fireworks the weekend before in South Carolina, the ones for sale in N.C. being notorious for their inability to make noise, excite an audience, or blow off a finger, let alone fly a hundred feet up in the air and explode in showers of red and green. Our street was the envy of the neighborhood.

Ngnat and her mother watched from the window of her bedroom until a lull in the launches came. I took her outside for a closer look, and as if a switch had been thrown, the cul-de-sac was suddenly full of people. A puppy at the party had run off, tail tucked in, yowling in fear after one explosion too many.

"Puppy gone?" For Ngnat, this was obviously a job for a little girl and her penlight. She ran on tiptoe through the dew laden lawns of the houses around us, clad only in her nightshirt, shining her wholly inadequate light in the places she considered likely to hold a puppy, such as drainspouts and the undersides of birdfeeders.

Despite our help, the puppy was eventually located, and we two crashed one of the suddenly popular backyard deck parties for the rest of the show. Between launches, Ngnat declaimed for her captive audience, on topics ranging from Dora, to her baby brother, who cries for milk, to jumping off the diving board at the pool.

Eventually the excitement high generated from being outside past her bedtime wore down. I sat cross-legged on the deck, and she clambered into the nest thus created, reclining against me in the warm dark, sucking her thumb and occasionally kicking over my mint julep. The shells flew up on their tails of red and green, the gunpowder smell from each launch wafting back over us. She clapped for each, approving even the duds.

We attempted to depart after the launches drew to a close, only to find that not only was smaller stuff was being let off in the street in front of the house but that Emma! Was! There! Daddy!

"Tay-Tay!" Emma called out of the smoke; "Tay-Tay!" being the diminutive Ngnat has been known by at her daycare since her class learned to talk. Neither her mother nor I much care for it, but we lost that battle ages ago.

Since Ngnat was six months old, she and Emma have been in daycare together. All the excitement of earlier in the evening returned to Ngnat in full force, and we crashed our second party of the evening as she and Emma shrieked at each other in the driveway.

"Sparklers!" Emma cried, "Want a sparkler?"

"Sparklers! Yes!" Ngnat had no idea what a sparkler was, but if Emma had one, they must be worth their weight in M&M's. Yet she had treasure of her own. "See my flashlight?"

I had broached the idea of sparklers to the Sainted Wife earlier in the day, but the notion had been dismissed as entirely too dangerous. So, no sparklers.

Except, Emma had a sparkler......

Ngnat held a sparkler as well, once I returned from a quick trip to let the wife know her wishes had once again gone by the board, and to fetch shoes and shorts. It's one thing to let one's child watch fireworks in her Dora nightshirt and Blue's Clues panties. To my mind, actually letting her hold the gunpowder on a stick that is a sparkler required clothing of a sturdier make. Also, Dora looked somewhat flammable.

Zod: It's that fiery Latina temperament.

So fun was had with sparklers, red and green and blue. Very nice, very safe. Then Emma and her daddy held a roman candle, and launched colored balls of flame down the street. Bloody Emma. Bloody Emma's dad.

Ngnat watched them in awe, then turned to me, the question in her eyes.

Bloody bloody bloody bloody bloody dammit.

I surrendered to the evitable. "Oh, all right."

Together we held the cardboard tube as Zod shrilled imprecations in my head, charge after charge rolling up out of the tube, blazing into the night. Ngnat ooohed over the colors once or twice, but was pretty blase about the whole thing. I spent my time wondering how quickly I could get my hand over her eyes if need be.

Fortunately, much of the rest of the evening was taken up with things not so likely to cause Ngnat's grandparents heart palpitations. Emma came to see Scotty M. at Ngnat's invitation, she and Ngnat running the 30 yards to our home as if it were ten in the morning instead of almost midnight. They both stayed very quiet as I lifted them up over the cribrail to gaze upon the wonder below, then went across the hall to play house at the top of their lungs. Her parents came for her soon afterward, walking her back to their car as Ngnat wildly waved goodbye from the front porch.

It was a damn good 4th.

Epilogue: Next Monday morning, Ngnat insisted on taking Emma a a single fruit snack from her pack of five, holding it in her hand all the way to school.

"Thank you Tay-Tay," said Emma, accepting the sweaty, lint covered snack and popping it into her mouth with alacrity. "I got a flashlight."

"Mine has a strap!" Ngnat informed her.

"Mine has a button!"

I left them to their technical discussion.

Posted by Bigwig at July 14, 2003 01:23 AM | TrackBack
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"Our street was the envy of the neighborhood."

You must live in my neighborhood in Apex - our stuff... well, "It blowed up real good!"

Ya, my neighborhood, and a hundred others around here :-)

Posted by: Russ at July 14, 2003 06:13 PM
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