Max has a new gesture in his repertoire. He raises his hands in the air, makes a "oooom!" sound and then shakes his head "no." What he's saying is, he's aware there's a fireworks display on the 4th of July, and he's not having any of it.
Here's a little documentary I made on the topic, soon to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival:
Trouble is, although you can hear the fireworks from our house, you can't see 'em so well.
Now, this is what we could do: Try to coax Max into it. Dave and Sabrina could head early to the park and snag a spot for us. I'd show up close to the start time with Max, who will have his headphones on, and try to lead him to where they are.
But this is what would probably happen: Max would start screeching, then Dave or I would have to hug him tight and hold him and he'd possibly calm down. Even if he did, chances are Max would lose it once the fireworks start. We haven't been in a couple of years, since this is the week he usually goes to camp (that's happening at the end of August).
And yet, this is why we we'd still consider trying: History has shown that once Max can push past his fears, he enjoys the activity. This has proven true with his school play, with the drive-in movie theater, with seeing a magic show. True, fireworks are a major sensory experience—they're loud, they're in the dark. But again, I think one of these years Max will get into them, and this could be the year. I am planning to show him a bunch of YouTube videos about them today and tomorrow. I will tell him that there may be purple fireworks. I will do everything except detonate some in our home as an example.
But this is why I'm torn: Max clearly wants to hang in the house, and I don't want to ignore his wishes or potentially traumatize him. Also: Dealing with a screeching scene in front of all those families on the lawn will not be so pleasant. (Understatement alert.)
I am leaning toward a compromise: I'll drive him closer to the area and we stay in the car and watch the fireworks.
July 4th update!
So what happened was, Max decided he'd be cool with driving in the car—with his headphones on—to see the fireworks. Five minutes in, he had to go potty. Back we went to the house. He decided he didn't want to leave. I coaxed him back ino the car. We realized we could barely see anything through the many trees in the area, but when he caught one glimpse of one firework, his whole face lit up. Back at the house, he made me turn off all the lights and we could see a bit of the neighboring city's display through the back door. We'd recently removed some drapery in our bedroom and I realized the view would be better there, so up we went and Max stood there, mesmerized, for 15 minutes. At bedtime, he told me he wanted more fireworks! So, a happy ending. I hope all of your kids had a good time, too.
July 5th update!
Max woke up and watched videos of fireworks on YouTube for an hour.
Image: Flickr/SJ Liew