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Mountain Momma

My husband is from South Carolina — the state where you don’t have to wear helmets on a motorcycle and you can detonate a backyard fireworks’ show packing enough TNT to last Wile E. Coyote for a lifetime. 


The first year I joined his family’s annual ode to explosives in the name of Independence Day, my husband obligingly wore safety glasses at my urging. A welder’s helmet would have been preferable in my book, but you have to pick your battles.

Here in the more civilized state of North Carolina, we leave our fireworks to the pros. 

Any of you moms who don’t have your July Fourth plans sewed up yet, the smorgasbord of events in our calendar is a little dizzying. Good luck picking, that’s all I can say!

We’ve been pumped about the impending Fourth of July fireworks for a couple of weeks now. I’m not sure what my kids like best — the fireworks or just getting to stay up super late.

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For many parents, therein lies the rub. After staking out the perfect spot for an unobstructed view, setting up the lawn chairs and spreading out the blankets, reality sets it. 

It’s not yet 8 p.m., and fireworks are still almost two hours away. I rarely venture anywhere without an arsenal of activities, but hauling all those blankets, chairs, drinks, snacks, etc., usually proves such an expedition that a tote bag of coloring books falls by the wayside. 

And there we sit — two looming hours to fill before the big show.

Along with the classic “I Spy” and “20 Questions” games, we like “Story Tree,” where one person starts telling a story, and you go around in a circle, each person adding on to the story, killing off or introducing new characters and plot twists as they see fit. Another one is “Would You Rather …,” where you make up two absolutely gross, disgusting scenarios and pose the question of which you would rather endure. When all else fails, pull out the stash of snacks.

Somehow, some way, the minutes will pass, the sky will get darker, and fireworks time will arrive.

Things that go ‘boom’ in the night will inevitably scare some younger kids. Fireworks can be downright terrifying, in fact, and many a mom or dad will be spied hauling a wailing toddler with their hands over their ears back to the car early.

If your kid is sensitive to loud noises, there’s not much you can do to stave off this scenario. But it can’t hurt to prepare them for what the fireworks will sound like. Act out the big bangs ahead of time, and even get them to join in, making the biggest cacophony they can muster. The fireworks role-playing might make the real thing seem more personal and less daunting when the time comes.

Alas, when the last boom goes off, you can look forward to yet another test of your parental endurance: the long trudge back to the car or waiting in line for a shuttle, followed by the bumper-to-bumper throngs inching their way out to the highway.

I take their jammies along and change them into their nighttime attire before climbing in to the car, and if I’m lucky, they’ll be asleep by the time we pull into the driveway.

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