Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hoping the 4th Goes off WITHOUT a Bang

Most people greet the 4th of July with happy anticipation. There's the day off of work and usually some sort of picnic or festive parade with the kids, or a trip to the beach or a nearby lake. As the sun sets, neighborhoods across the country are studded with backyard barbecues and block parties. In our neighborhood, many folks go all out with the fireworks. Those who do not find enjoyment sitting out in their front yards and watching the beautiful show going on right above their heads. And, with the advancement in fireworks technology these days, watching them is truly a spectacle and a treat for the eyes to see.

These are all things I might find myself looking forward to each 4th of July too. Except, we have a problem in our house that has made my husband and I dread this day and look forward to its quick end. My son is deathly afraid of fireworks.

Now, I know many people have children who have a few years early on where they run inside screaming from the noise, or for whom the bright display just bothers. But, by the age of about five, a lot of kids' fascination with either setting things on fire or blowing things up takes over and they are the first in line to help set up the show or at least look forward to watching it year after year.

My son is on the cusp of age seven, and now we are realizing this is becoming a full-blown phobia. We have tried most everything to help him through this fear--getting him to try watching things from inside or on the television, giving him earplugs, blasting loud music in his room to drown out the sound so he can sleep. Nothing seems to help. And, with each year that passes, we find him more and more terrified.

From an early age, my son has shown a real sensitivity to loud noises. Sadly, this conflicts with most of his interests and passions in life. For example, most of his life he has told us he would like to be a police officer when he growns up. My brother-in-law is a sheriff's deputy and let my son see his car. It was all fine and dandy, until he turned the siren on. My son ran inside the house and for weeks said he'd changed his mind about his future career. He loves monster trucks and NASCAR, yet I know he could never handle a trip to the track to watch the cars make the laps. The noise would send him over the edge and we'd be forced to leave. Nightmares would plague him weeks and months later.

This year, we'll prepare ourselves for the inevitable shower of fireworks noises with more earplugs again. I'll buy some non-popping fireworks and possibly try the sparkler thing yet again. I will try to get him to dip his big toe into the least scary of what the 4th has to offer. And, I'll hope, as I have in the past, that this will be the year that he'll turn to us and say, "Hey, Mom and Dad, this firework thing is pretty amazing once you get past the noise."

One of the hardest things as a parent is to watch a phobia develop in your child. We want so much for our kids to take on the world with the confidences we did not know in our own youth. And, at the same time, we want to protect their hearts from any terror that might shower upon them, like fireworks on the 4th of July.


Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

#1 Son still doesn't like fireworks because of the noise. It took him until he was about 10 to actually get over the fear of the noise. He still sticks his fingers in his ears, but he will watch them.

LLB's dearest friend in the whole wide world is super sensitive to fireworks. They purchased her a set of workman's earphones - you know the big ugly ones the guys wear at the airport - and that seemed to help. The do the earplugs and then those earphones.

Best of luck to you! Hope this helps.


8:59 AM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Amy Linder said...

Boy, do I feel for your son. I'm the mom and I'm the one who doesn't like loud noises. Never have. I hate thunder, fire crackers, anything like that. Because of this, my husband and I have not taken our 3 1/2 year old daughter to a fireworks display yet. So I don't know how she'd handle it. But so far she seems alright with thunder. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Fireworks are banned in our area, unless you go to an organized show. So I can only assume we'll hear some at some point tomorrow. Here's hoping we get through it alright. I hope your son does okay with it, too.

10:20 AM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Carol said...

I hope it's just a phase - our sons should get together and listen to quiet things together. Harry HATES all things loud unless he's making the noise, ie. a plastic recorder, a drum, or pretending he's a firetruck!

2:45 PM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Wow... I'm wondering how he's been doing so far, with the pre-4th fireworks. Has he mentioned them?

7:44 AM, July 04, 2006  

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