Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 30, 1999

MARY ANN FITZMORRIS / L’Observateur / August 30, 1999

Ten boys gathered around a fire can be called a pyromaniac convention.

This particular gathering of boys was the occasion of my son’s birthday party. We called it The Firebug Festival.I can now confirm that my husband and I do indeed need our heads examined, but our very close friends are kind and tolerant of our deficiencies. So they consented to having their sons, wild-eyed withanticipation, come and shoot fireworks under the supervision of my husband.

Besides, as I have mentioned previously, my son’s forays into fireworks amount to little more than fantasies of explosions as he lights the weenie stuff. For guys, though, I think the lighting part is the fun.Right before school closed for the summer, a mother of one of the boy’s in my son’s class at school told me that she had been with the boys at the lunch table that day, and my son announced his plans for a fireworks birthday party.

She said the boys nearly dropped their lunches the idea was so cool. Theentire table said, “Count me in!” She said the boys were practically drooling at the thought.

One of the guests was a boy we see on occasion; an old friend. His mothertold me that her son showed the invitation to every boy that entered their house for two weeks. “It was fun to watch,” she says. “They wereabsolutely gah-gah at the idea.”I wasn’t sure that one of the invited would be able to come. His fatherworries about things like that far more than I do. I mentioned my surprisewhen he showed up with his mother. She explained, “Notice dad’s not here.We didn’t tell him.”The fireworks were carefully selected by my husband to pass my standards for lameness. I was thrilled with the whole idea. Imagine abirthday party where the treat bags are given upon arrival and blown up! Nothing to take home! Sisters of some of the boys came and I told my son that anything left over after filling the treat bags should go in a bag for the girls. “Don’t worrymom, I haven’t forgotten them. They can play with the punks.”Then he demonstrated that a punk can provide hours of entertainment if you wave it and stare at the lit end. I was touched by his generosity.Luck was with him. The girls were extremely uninterested in the explosivefun after a sparkler or two. I was glad they went inside. It was nervewracking enough with just the boys.

The actual fireworks didn’t take place until darkness fell. Since that didn’toccur until after eight, and the party began at six, the air of anticipation itself nearly exploded. We staved them off by letting them do smokebombs, and they entertained themselves by endlessly counting and recounting the fireworks in their bags.

When the time came my husband took them outside and I could immediately see catastrophe brewing. All the boys were running to eachother to get their punks lit. Each had begun to dig in their bag to startlighting their fireworks individually. One look at that scene; each boy notthree feet from the other with a Roman Candle in the bag and I yelled for a cease fire.

We organized a long line where my husband went from boy to boy and lit one of the fireworks with each one, moving down the line. This musthave been enormously frustrating to the boys, but less frustrating than a trip to ER. These things must be put into perspective.The whole procedure lasted far longer than I expected, and it was really fun to watch. A couple of the boys slept over, which made my sleep a littlerestless. I kept thinking someone may have left a lit punk in the house.One of the dads who came to pick up his child in the morning commented that the lawn showed the party to be a great success. I replied thateveryone left with all parts unsinged.

That, to me, was the great success.

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