Timothy busied himself in the afternoon preparing his program. At 13, he had a clear idea of what this presentation should look like.
Crepe paper was hung from the basketball court to the far corners of the garage’s cement apron. When an afternoon rain shredded the crepe, he hung more, adding a banner around parts of the driveway.
“I wish I could make the sun go down now,” he told me after supper. “What time does the sun go down anyway?” About 8:30, my young warrior. And it’s only 7 pm now. I wish I could make the sun go down for you, too.
As darkness fell, we were rousted. “It’s time, it’s time!”
With his iPod plugged into a pair of tiny speakers, blasting music from some “Requiem” that he introduced but forgot to explain, Timothy welcomed us.
“Some of these are really loud,” he said.
After the first little display pelted us with debris, we suggested he move to the other side of the driveway. He’d thought to bring his little lantern which could glow yellow or be switched to red. That and some slightly-stubborn matches accompanied him from the table to his next display.
“I twisted three wicks together for this next one,” he told us as he struck a match, which immediately died.
“Fuse,” his father said. “Not wick.”
“What’s a wick?.”
“Think of a candle.”
“Ah. OK. I twisted three fuses together.” Earlier, he had debated whether he should open the little balls of gunpowder to pour the contents into one big ball of gunpowder. I had discouraged the idea so he had switched to twisting the fuses.
After watching the series of little flashes and pops, we leaned back in our lawn chairs as he prepared the next one. “This will be loud.” He laid the match against the fuse, ran to the far corner of the driveway, and covered his ears. He was right.
We watched Dragon’s Eggs, where a whole series of little white balls exploded on the driveway. We watched Garden Flower, where a little cardboard disk spun, changing colors as it lost velocity. As it ended, Timothy burst back onto the scene, searching for the disk itself.
“Hmmm,” he swung his light around. “Look at the white spot where it was. Cleaned the driveway up there.” I was waiting for him to suggest lighting a whole series of Garden Flowers when we wanted to brighten up the concrete. But he didn’t, because, to his delight, he could find no signs of the cardboard.
“It must have disintegrated!” he said joyfully.
He had problems getting the next fuse lit. “I need better matches,” he said. One lit but the head immediately broke off, the flame falling to the concrete.
“Try pulling the match toward yourself when you light it,” his dad said. That worked a lot better and improved the page of the program considerably.
We watched more exploding firecrackers and another loud bang. “Isn’t this great?” Timothy said.
He’d searched hard for an empty glass bottle, locating one earlier in the day by climbing through all the junk in the burn pit out back. Now he slipped two rockets into it and lit them. They sailed into the inky sky, ending with a distant pop.
“Perfect,” he announced.
By then, a breeze was stirring and he hustled to get the next firecrackers lit.
The storm stole the rest of his show as a strong wing suddenly blasted the front yard and we scurried to get things undercover.
“ARGH,” he said. “The best part was coming. Did you see how they were getting better and better? We were getting closer to my grand finale.”
Another night, son. But I marveled at all the elements he’d created, from a written program to a thoughtful consideration of the order of the fireworks. He’d selected music, location, even decorations.
He’s a young warrior, but he had turned $5 work of fireworks into a display of love for his family.