Friday, July 1, 2011

Red, White and Boom

The fourth of July is not a holiday we look forward to in my house. Yes, there are lots of reasons the fourth is great (what’s not to like about swapping work for swimming and Popsicles?), but it also means fireworks. And when you have two small children who are (1) not used to and (2) generally afraid of loud noises, the fourth is more likely to cause crying than celebration.

But there are a lot of fireworks on the fourth. And before the fourth. And after the fourth. Between town-sponsored displays and drunken neighbors, fireworks displays are inescapable. And even worse, they occur at night. You know, when kids should be sleeping.  Inevitably, the neighbors start up right as I’m trying to tuck the kids into bed. And while I am that mom who would go out and yell at my neighbors to knock it off, even I know that at this time of year some leeway is appropriate.  So the show goes on.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the fireworks kept my kids up because they were awed by the display. But my kids scramble out of bed terrified at the loud sounds echoing around their rooms.

I understand that my kids seem to be overly sensitive to sounds. Both of my children dislike loud things. My children approach movie theaters, flushing toilets, and yes, fireworks, with their hands over their ears and fear in their eyes. Case in point: Sweet Pea is so afraid of the flushing sound of public toilets that she won’t go in a public bathroom. And when we make her, she literally shakes. So I know I’ve got a bit of egg-shell skull syndrome going on (that’s for you, Professor Miller). But I also know, my kids aren’t alone in disliking loud things. Which makes the fourth a pain in the rear for a lot of parents out there.

I don't have any good ideas on how to limit the fireworks of the fourth, but below are some kid-friendly ideas that may take your child's focus off the noise:

Go to your local parade. Parades are loud, just like fireworks, so you might have to prepare your kids a little bit ahead of time. But the noise is constant and predictable, so your children may be able to tolerate it better than the fireworks your neighbors set off. Plus, most parades have police and/or firemen, clowns or candy – all of which kids love.

Take your kids strawberry picking. There are few things more fun to do with your kids than to take to them to a pick-your-own farm. The trip to the farm teaches kids how food is grown and opens the door to all kinds of teaching moments.  And it’s fun.

Camp in your backyard. My idea of camping generally involves a hotel reservation, but nothing is more fun to kids than camping out in your own backyard. Assuming the weather cooperates, set up a tent – even the kids' play tent – and sit outside to read bedtime stories, have a snack or just look at the stars.

Go on a picnic. Pack up a small cooler and ride your bikes to the park, a pond, or anywhere grassy and have a picnic. The kids will love eating outside, and you don’t have to worry about crumbs.

If none of these strike you, check out some other ideas here:

Wishing you a happy and safe fourth of July!


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