Sunday, July 8, 2012


The lazy days of summer seem not so lazy.  At least in our house.  After a busy morning of swim lessons for Michael and a trip to the pool, we still have more flurry left for our day.  Thankfully, crabby Dylan has stayed away most of the day with a blessed long nap.  He is plopped on the couch wedged between a pillow and his favorite brown fleece blanket as we visit with our friends over dinner and good conversation.  Michael watches his favorite show to pass the time with grown-ups gabbing and baby brother snoozing.  As the sun begins to dive behind neighborhood homes and our company departs, we decide to meet up with friends at the local Family Fun night.  We know the boys have had a jam-packed day and they are exhausted, but we could use a little summer fun.

If you have ever been to a festival in anywhere USA, you know parking is the worst of the situation.  It is an aggravating, forehead vein-popping experience for a simple family outing.  We circle the festival and then the surrounding neighborhoods for a prime spot.  After about 15 minutes, score!  We throw the SUV in park and the kiddos hurriedly start unbuckling themselves.

As we approach the festivities, we pass a bunch of ponies.  Well, more accurately ponies' tails swatting flies away.  Grrrrrreat.  Then, I spot the the vendor packing up the petting zoo and the pony rides.  I let out a sigh of relief.  Oh, thank God!  They are on their way out.  I am not the biggest fan of my boys petting filthy animals in searing heat.  To say the least, I am not a nature person.  My Labrador Retriever is about as wild as it gets in our house.

Inflatable slides, bounce houses and festival games.  The boys eyes take in the thrills that scream primary colors.  I don't think I have ever seen so much red, blue and yellow in my life.  Little feet start to walk faster and then break into a run to arrive at one of the festival attractions...  an inflatable obstacle course.  They stop and stare with their mouths agape.  They are respectful and pause almost in prayer at the The Holy Grail of festival attractions...  Then Michael breaks the moment of silence and shouts "American Ninja Warrior!"  He is ready to become the next warrior.  His body jumps up and down to illustrate his undeniable excitement.  After the fourth trip through the line and conquering the obstacle course, the boys have achieved ninja status.

We head with our friends to the tikes train ride.  The boys and Michael's bestie, climb onto the train as they shove handfuls of popcorn in their mouths.  White puffs spill all over their laps and onto the ground.  They don't care.  They ride the little train around the parking lot pointing to the sky and shouting different things they see.  Their glow necklaces are glowing as brightly as their smiles.

Darkness has fallen and we settle in on our blanket next to our friends.  Dylan goes back and forth between their blanket and ours.  He keeps sitting with our friends, whose oldest son babysits for Michael and Dylan on occasion.  The boys are dancing and playing as never before when an expected ear-rattling explosion sounds.  BOOM!  There is a warning firework in the sky prompting everyone to take their seats for the patriotic performance ahead.

We sit excitedly anticipating the fireworks.  Dylan wiggles with excitement.  He flings his glow necklace around, whipping it in a circle hurriedly.  I am just waiting for him to slap someone with this fun toy turned torturous whip.  He hops up and dances with his glow necklace wrapped around his ankle.  The lighted glow necklace becomes a blur with how fast his feet are moving.  The 80's hit, Maniac, plays in my intra-head audio system.  I pull him back into my arms.  Then the dancing night lights begin painting the sky.

I look at Michael's face, his eyes large and twinkling.  His clear blue eyes reflect every explosion of light, shimmering and glittering with each pop.  His sweet expression etched in awe and wonderment.  He blurts out sounds expressed with oohs and aahs, but also little boy growls.  His sounds put me in his little imagination of some amazing firefight in outer space between two alien space crafts or laser-emitting dinosaurs.  A little boy's play-by-play of the dynamite...  expressive, animated and angry with every BOOM and every spark of light in the inky sky.

I can't stop looking at his face.  I adore the wonder in his expression as red and blue watercolors splash across his porcelain face.

Conversely, Dylan is trembling with fear with every firework.  It's not the sparkling glitter in the night sky, rather the audible BOOMS and BANGS that mark his experience of the evening.  His hands cupped tightly over his ears, he presses into me.  He reassures me, "I wike dem.  All of dem.  Just not the booms."  Then he yells for me to wrap my arms around him.  I shift uncomfortably from my contorted position of holding him on my lap leaning back, but with no support from my arms behind me.  I change positions and he quickly grabs my arm and wraps it around his waste.  His naked ear is finally rejoined with the cup of his protective little hand.

My husband and I are completely impressed with the show, which offers four 'fake out' grand finales.  Every time we start to believe the show has wrapped up and even one time we start to get up, the pops of color reappear.  We all dreamily resume our positions and continue gazing upward.

The boys have never seen fireworks this close and have never experienced the intensity of the thunderous pops and booms.  And they respond so markedly different.  Michael gazes up into the sky with a smile on his face, his little mouth parted in awe.  Dylan scrunches down into my body with his hands clasped tightly over his ears, partly enjoying and partly hating the display.

Yes, they are different in so many ways, these two brothers.  But they also clash like explosions when they argue.  They color my world every day with their light.  And they are loud even when they whisper.  And in these ways they are very much alike.

I will never forget this moment sitting and looking up with my beloved family.  I smile watching my husband that I love so much and the boys that I adore endlessly, while sitting with friends that have become our New Jersey crew.

Sometimes it's these moments, you know, the ones you will carry on with you in life.  The ones where your heart bursts with fulness.  The ones where the colors and the glitter are sometimes unspeakably brilliant.  And the only way you can describe these most amazing, memorable moments is, well...