Last year, I wrote a Fourth of July column advising parents not to overreact to predictably loud and annoying holiday fireworks by complaining profusely on Facebook. No one listened to me. Granted, it could be because parents' ears were punctured and rendered useless by the cries of their sleeping babies, barks of their dogs, and repeated booms outside their bedroom windows -- but let's be honest here: We are a nation that doesn't live in a war zone (where I imagine that children's sleeping patterns aren't exactly top priority), and beyond that, we are a nation that loves guns, which also make loud booms and also happen to kill people every single day of the year. There's an irony to people complaining quite vocally, and angrily, about loud fireworks, when we actually have far more restrictions against setting off fireworks in the United States than we do against owning guns. If a person complains about fireworks on Facebook, especially if that person is a parent, his/her status update is usually greeted with righteous comments in solidarity. But if a person complains about the lack of gun safety in the U.S., that update will likely be met with some extreme opposition. I find this both disconcerting and amusing.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as much a proponent for the safe and responsible use of fireworks, and the banning of many such explosives, as anyone, and I know a large contingent of people don't heed those laws. I know what it's like to live in 'Murrica, where the fireworks parties start around June 28th and stop around July 7th, and how aggravating that can be (especially when paired with the rapid firing of shotguns!). But in the grand scheme of things, it's hard for me to give a shit about this week of headaches for parents, because fireworks are intended to be fun. They may be dangerous to handle, and they may not be fun for everyone, but they're a source of wonder and excitement (and stupidity) for many, and I, for one, enjoy them. Parents, on the other hand, do not. Every year, frustrated parents go online to vent about their neighbors (almost as though their neighbors can hear them), and what they're really saying is, "I'm special, and my children are special, and your loud and illegal fun needs to stop now." Holiday tradition doesn't matter. The fact that the parent(s) probably shot off a firework or two before having kids doesn't matter. All that matters is that their neighbors are rowdy, fun-having assfaces who have no respect for the fact that *some people* need to get a little shut-eye around here!!!! It's one of the most frivolous and self-indulgent things to be angry about, particularly because the partying is so short-lived. Being inconvenienced sucks, yes, but instead of just dealing with the noise in real life, parents cling to their children and their iPhones and make a whole lot of noise on the internet. For every day that fireworks disrupt their lives, their bitching is on display online. It's a different type of noise, but noise nonetheless, and I can't help but suggest they stop -- even though I know they won't listen. I suppose from that perspective, parents and their obnoxious neighbors aren't really so different after all! Let's check out this year's new batch of complainers.
1. "Lite" Complaining
Jessica's version of complaining is right on the line of acceptability. She's tolerant of fireworks until 10pm (despite the fact that it doesn't get fully dark until around 9pm, when most city fireworks shows begin), and she acknowledges that fireworks have some positive attributes. Good on Jessica. That said, who cares about Jessica's child? Not me. Not her neighbors. Not anyone, really. It's the Fourth of July! How about keeping the kid up late and sharing the beautiful and fabulous fun with him? Even if children are too young to appreciate fireworks now, exposure can help them appreciate them* later. *Not that everyone needs to appreciate fireworks, but I'd rather have a kid who's obsessed with a light show than a kid who's screaming bloody murder every year.
2. Mama Bear Who Is Also A Gorilla
When you're a mama bear, you can mutate into whatever animal you want given the set of circumstances. Sure, MOST of the time a mama bear stays in true form, saying things like, "...or the claws will come out!", but every so often, on rare and unimportant occasions, a mama bear may turn into a tiger, a wolf, or a gorilla in order to protect her young. I hope Tiffany's neighbors made it through the night alive.
3. Crabby Ashley And Her Crew
Yeah, you tell 'em, Ash! Like Jamie said, fireworks after 8:30pm (when it's not even dark outside) are total bullshit. Why don't people know the rules??? Fireworks are only permissible on July 3rd or 4th, between the hours of 5:30pm and 8:30pm, and, ideally, everyone setting them off is required to wear a designated t-shirt with the slogan "Fireworks Enthusiast Asshole" in large block lettering. That way, parents know precisely whom to direct their outrage on Facebook later, when those piece of crap neighbors continue setting off fireworks well past 9pm like the monumental jerks they are.
Also, Shauna is very concerned about the M80s. She knows M80s by their sound and their scent. She is being tested and it is not funny.
4. Generation Sensitivity
According to the internet, SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) "is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses." To put it in different terms, "at least 1 in 20 children's daily lives is affected by SPD," and a 2009 study "suggests that 1 in every 6 children experiences sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions." Those are pretty high statistics. And considering my reaction to all the excessively loud motorbikes in my neighborhood, and my desire to have an excuse to write off everything in the world that I find annoying, I think I might even classify myself as SPD!
And yet, I can still enjoy fireworks, OR wear noise-canceling headphones, which by the way were not only manufactured for children with SPD. Sometimes people just don't like noise. And sometimes on the Fourth of July or New Year's Eve, that noise happens anyway, and we will all just live with it. In the wise words of Prince, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life." Let's stop treating our kids like they're so sensitive their heads are going to roll off. We're all dealing with shit and most of us are going to survive.
5. Yahoo Neighbors
Once you start muttering terms like "yahoo neighbors," you've officially turned not into your dad, but into your grandfather. Rather than age himself 25 or 35 years, Alex ages him about 65 years. And Daniel, try as he might to appear rational, can't help but throw in a little bro-speak. "Now, if they are still doing it come Monday, then we've got an issue." Yeah, dude. Come Monday, someone's gonna bring the pain! But really, though, if your neighbors are still shooting off fireworks 3 days after the Fourth, how about just going over to their place to try to talk to them about it? Fireworks enthusiasts, much like gun enthusiasts, can actually be reasonable people when they're not busy shooting stuff. Sometimes you just have to level with them IRL. Especially since complaining online won't change a thing.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Enjoy -- or don't enjoy -- your weekend!