When firework events turn into a damp squib
- Credit: Archant
When Child One was a baby, we went to a large fireworks display and nearly got crushed. I am sure it was safely organised but it was busy, muddy and the buggy wheels got clogged. Half the city surrounded us. I feared for his life. Vowed never again.
The next year, we drove to a quieter public bash. A breeze. Until we saw the huge bonfire. Trying to stop a toddler from running into this exciting pit of flames took the edge off the roast chestnuts. He loved the pretty lights but couldn’t tolerate big bangs. We dashed away, rain thrashing down, grateful for the closeness of the car.
Third time lucky? I’m more qualified. I feel smug, as I order ear defenders. I have Child Two. I’ll have a green pair and a pink pair. They’re like 1980s headphones your dad had. They twist to be compactly stored but I can’t get the bulky bendy blighters open.
A late nap to avoid meltdowns, wellies, two pairs of socks each. My mum’s top advice; double the socks! Only on firework night. Apparently it’s essential. “To be on the safe side”.
We look like we’re off on an Arctic expedition: waterproof trousers, thick coats, chunky hats, gloves and scarves.
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The parents with ear defended children give each other knowing looks. A hallmark of genius! Their offspring can go deaf and run screaming, forever impaired and panic-disordered at the slightest noise. For us, we felt that our child was worth the £16.99 plus postage and packaging.
What do you mean you can’t hear? They’re too tight? You won’t wear them? No, I can’t hold them - this polystyrene coffee is keeping me vertical. You know Mummy goes to bed at seven. They’re starting. Oh no. Just rogue teenagers sparking up. Don’t use your glowstick to pretend to smoke. It’s a terrible expensive habit that makes you smell funny, with nasty breath and nobody will want to kiss you. What, like your coffee, Mummy?
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The year after, we took the bus. Freezing! Even with double socks. We couldn’t get a taxi because of car seats. I was pregnant, waddling through the mud, slipping and sliding like obese Bambi on ice. Near misses with sparklers. Rude burger sellers. Lonnnng queues. Nothing worse than other people, is there?
The uplifting music starts. Queen. Some classical piece you’re meant to know the name of but don’t. Spice Girls. Coldplay. Abba. Take That. Something for everyone. Except my daughter who wants to know when it’s finished. Is it nearly done yet? Can we go? I’m cold. Mummy, I am really cold. Why don’t you wear your earmuffs, darling?
There I am with my wellies, waterproof trousers, Baby Bump 3 (mostly) covered by a raincoat. The only thing that could possibly make me more dignified at crying o clock - at a bus stop with disappointed children – is ear defenders, over my beanie hat. Both pairs. Double warmth. Drowns out moaning. Because as my mother said, why have one when you can have two? (And I’m a twin.)
Tonight is Child Three’s second Guy Fawkes’ Night. He was too tiny to go last year. I was still in the not able to see stage of exhaustion and didn’t know what day it was. Obviously he will have to watch from the window.
I often thought how awful for kids whose parents are too mean to take them to the fireworks, letting them stare out of the bedroom window like a Disney orphan. But it’s free and you keep warm. No transport issues or fear. You can buy age-appropriate snacks and drink from actual crockery! They go to bed straight after. The fizzles and sizzles are muted; colour and wonder cosier from your home.
The leisure lovers can annually trudge loyally through the mud, subjecting themselves to classical music, torrential rain, the world and his wife - to celebrate the punishable death of some failed terrorist. I will donate a tenner to a good cause. As long as a bottle of Barefoot counts! Barefoot – the wine that not only braves November 5 without wellies, it has no socks on at all. What on earth would my mother say?