From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

Lightning Bugs and Fireworks

On the Fourth of July, Kristi and I went a couple blocks from our house to a huge hill where we could enjoy the view and the fireworks not only from the town we live in, but also from nearby towns. It was a hot night, but a wonderful breeze gave occasional relief, and we could see a long way in all directions.

I wanted to see the reaction of Caleb, our three-year-old, to the fireworks. He sat with us all of two minutes before he started giggling and tumbling down the hill.

“Caleb, come here.”

He reluctantly came back by us and sat for a spell.

“See the pretty colors over there?”

“Ooohhh!” he replied, all the while looking in a different direction from where the fireworks were actually going off.

“Heee-heee!” he giggled as he tumbled down the steep hill again.

“Caleb, come here and watch with Daddy.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

Back up the hill he came. I tried to get him to concentrate on the fireworks again.

He watched for another twenty seconds before he started walking away from us.

He let out a sudden squeal of delight. Finally, he is enjoying the fireworks, I thought.

“Look at all the lightning bugs!” he yelled out.

I sighed and looked down the hill; indeed, literally hundreds of fireflies were stealing Daddy’s thunder.

I tried in vain one last time to get him to watch with me. “Caleb, tell me what colors you see.”

“That’s a green one, Daddy! And a red one!”

This lasted a minute or so before he was off tumbling down the hill again, saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” with each spin of his body. I started to call out to him again when Kristi leaned over to me and whispered, “Michael, just let him be a kid. There will be other years.”

I was so irritated because he wouldn’t sit by us and take in the fireworks. I guess I had this preconceived notion that he would sit on my lap and just squeal with delight every time one exploded. Then he would ask me if they were magic, so that his proud Daddy could stick out his chest and explain away. Luckily my understanding wife was there and was able to gently nudge me back to reality.

My expectations weren’t wrong, but once again my impatience got in the way of enjoying time with my wife and sons. I should have picked up on the cues and tumbled down the hill with my boy. Fireworks have been around for hundreds of years, but my boy would be three years old for only another week.

I bet when one tumbles down the hill, lightning bugs look a lot like fireworks going off. I guess I’ll have to start a new tradition on the Fourth of July. Actually, from what my three-year-old tells me, the show goes on every night!

Michael T. Powers

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