It was the Fourth of July.
I had woken up at some crazy early hour to check out of our Girl’s Weekend rental house (more on that later), drive to the Detroit airport, and fly home. That night, we had our annual fireworks watching “party” planned, for which thankfully Chris had made the preparations and done all of the organization.
We have this fantastic spot we’ve been going to the last three years. Every year, we have a different group of joiners, and most are usually last minute deciders. This year ended up being the biggest crowd yet – over 20 people circled around our spot in the top of the Children’s Hospital parking deck that directly faces our city’s fireworks extravaganza.
Chris brought Watermelon, Ice Pops, and Gummies. Noah and Ali each packed additional snack bags. My Mom brought adorable little strawberry shortcakes in tiny Mason Jars (she’s been a Living Breathing Pinterest since before the Commodore 64.) We arrived at 7pm, two hours before the fireworks show, so the children had plenty of time for running and playing and screaming and racing. I got tired of my kids asking if they could have another ice pop, so with grand flourish and holiday cheer, I announced “It is a night for snacking freedom! Eat whatever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to ask me for anything.”
Being that we have a strict 10:30am/3:00pm snacking schedule at home (created solely to get them to never ask me if they could have a snack ever again), this was huge news. Both children lit up with The Cheer of Independence and began snacking with the fervor of the Declaration signers themselves.
(I assume there were some spectacular snacks at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The passionate throwing off of Tyranny cannot happen without a good measure of gluten.)
(And I can totally see John Adams being on a gluten-free diet and Alexander Hamilton brattily working in a few overt jabs his way during some awful Hamiltonian 16 hour speech.)
As it approached the 9 o’clock hour, Chris convinced Noah to come sit in his lap for the actual fireworks. Flush-cheeked and sweaty, Noah was obliging – perhaps needing a moment of stillness more than he knew.
I was sitting next to them, my camera tripodded and my phone controlling the shutter so that I could get long-exposure photos with as little camera vibration as possible.
The fireworks began, and we all oohed and aahed. They seemed to come in odd spurts – not the usual nonstop onslaught of previous years. But no one had brought a radio to play the accompanying music, so we murmured that it must have to do with the rise and fall of the melody.
Then the fireworks stopped.
No grand finale, no obvious ending – they just fizzled out.
It was odd. I mean, I’ve been watching this fireworks show all my life and I know how long it should last and what an ending feels like, and it was clearly short and lacking of ending.
The hoards of people waited around in the parking lot for a few moments, staring impatiently at Vulcan, waiting for the show to pick back up. Then they started leaving.
Something just wasn’t right. So we sat there a little longer, waiting.
I took my camera off my tripod so that it didn’t get knocked over just as I heard Noah say to Chris,
“I just swallowed a little throw-up.”
Chris sent him to get his water bottle, and said to me, “Too much snacking leads to vurping. Good life lesson.”
Noah crawled back up into Chris’ lap and began to cry. Then wail. He couldn’t say why, he didn’t know what was wrong, he was just sobbing with all his little boy heart.
…Until he leaned over and vomited, nearly on the shoes of the guest sitting next to Chris. (Quite possibly on his shoes and he was just too nice to say so.)
Right as he did, the very tardy fireworks finale ramped up.
Chris quickly shuffled Noah back behind our group, and as the finale popped and banged with color and flourish, Noah did the same. It was the most immersive surround-sound experience anyone could ever wish for.
Heave, crack, gag, bang, vom, pop, splatter, cheer.
Chris and I found ourselves on either side of Noah, helping him lean out, wiping his mouth with voluminous amounts of paper towels, and covering his puddles with more paper towels to prevent passerby trodding.
In between pukes, Noah would cry and scream “I HATE THIS SO MUCH!!!”
After half a dozen heaves, Chris and I made eye contact. And with our eyes dancing in the light of the lovely fireworks behind us and the moisture of the terrible vomit before us, we simultaneously burst out laughing.
I mean how can you not.
Parenting is the most hilarious affliction.
We quickly stifled our laughter for Noah’s sake, and went back to guiding his ice-pop-soaked half-digested fries to the ground.
Chris said that he had it handled and I should really try to get a few photos of the finale. I ran back over to my tripod, slapped my camera back up, and hastily tried to grab a few shots, right as it tapered down and ended – this time, with proper fanfare. I managed to get one single non-blurry finale shot.
I went back to also-tapering Noah to comfort him, apologizing to our friends as they carefully filed past Noah and his freshly birthed lakes.
“Good night. I’m sorry. Hope you had fun. Happy Independence Day! Watch out for that puddle!”
Chris took all our stuff back to the car while I sat and rubbed Noah’s back. He stared ahead of him, looking like the miserable puppy dog that he was.
“Why is it pink? I had green and blue ice pops…”
We had to walk through all of the vast amounts and varieties of food that he consumed that night to track down the color of his output, but he seemed relieved when we’d figured it out.
“It was the red JELL-O!!!”, he said with eureka.
We all made it to the car without further incident, gave Noah a bag in case of Dear-God-No a car emergency, and I sat in the front, downloading and editing pictures, while we zero-miles-per-houred it in the parking lot traffic.
When we finally made it to the exit, we could see the left turn we needed to make, which fortunately was down a clear road with no traffic, but there was a truck quite unnecessarily blocking our way.
Chris calmly ignored it for a few moments, but finally started muttering under his breath about the utter rudeness of this individual that could clearly back up or go forward to allow us a much needed exit and as-quick-as-possible return to home with our Puke-Risk kid.
…Which eventually led Noah to inquire, “Hey Mom, we’re too young to call people jerks like Daddy just did, right?”
So what did we learn from that night?
a) If given no guidelines, our son will binge himself to vomiting like a starving dog who finds a Costco-sized bag of Alpo.
b) Rudeness is, at least in the Callahan household, apparently a privilege of aging.