Every year on the 4th of July neighbors from my small community gather on the shores of the town’s lake to celebrate our nation’s birth and witness a half hour of awesome fireworks; fireworks that are so beautiful they take your breath away. Roads are closed and townsfolk set up chairs on the beach and in the middle of the road to oooh and ahhh.
The magic of this night never wavers for me. For the past 21 years we have sat with friends and family members who have enjoyed a nice barbeque before meandering down the street to the lake for this annual tradition. We claim a space, sit down, and tilt our heads back so we can savor each and every moment of the spectacular display of light and color in the sky above.
As the fireworks pop, boom, and fizzle above us people holler out their appreciation.
“This is so much better than Disneyworld!”
“Oh, I love those gold ones!”
“Wow! That is SO beautiful,”
“They just get better every year!”
“I wish I could have these at my wedding.”
“Oh, that’s a new kind!”
While we were enjoying the amazing visual display above us this year, I thought of the children I know for whom fireworks are not a source of such happiness. Kids whose families create alternative plans so that their loud sounds do not trigger feelings of anxiety. Kids who have experienced what some call “challenging beginnings.”
Their parents inspire me. They make alternative plans that change every year as their children move toward health and well-being. I know families who watch fireworks from cars parked far away so their children can enjoy the spectacle without any sound, folks whose kids watch from inside their homes wearing headphones, dads and kids who stand side by side outside of their cars to watch just in case they need to make a quick getaway, and moms who take their kids to playgrounds with their iPods on so they can all enjoy the fireworks in a way that feels safe.
Kudos to those courageous kids and stellar parents who think outside the Fourth of July fireworks box. I love your creativity, humanity, and innovative spirit. Thank you for creating safe ways for kids to experience this American celebration with safety nets that honor each child’s needs and for modeling collaborative problem solving at its best!