The Boys: July 2009 Archives

Ever feel nervous when your children handle pyro and/or explosives?

"No, kids, these fireworks are for Mr. Loesch and Mr. Dellas."

Yeah, well Team Loesch did that on Shock City's roof on the Fourth of July because it's not Independence Day unless you can toss a bottle rocket from four stories up with friends and your friends' kids.


Which reminds me.


When I was a kid I spent the majority of my summers in the Ozarks with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all their offspring. There where so many of us I honestly have no idea how Grandma kept track; I remember stealing cookies from her cookie jar and running off to hide in the corn when I thought she was occupied and dangit all to Hades if that devil woman didn't find me. I mean that affectionately. I'm sure you can understand the wrath of a ten-year-old whose Grandma just swiped a Keebler elf cookie from her hand moments before she crammed it into her mouth.


The great thing about the Fourth of July is that all the adults wanted to drink beer and light fireworks off from my aunt's porch so no one paid all too much mind to what the kids were setting on fire - except my mother, who never let me hold a Roman candle like my cousins did because some lady she worked with had a neighbor who knew someone whose arm was blown off by a Roman candle when it exploded and bits of arm went everywhere. She changed the story up and made it gorier every year; one time it was his arm, another time it was his face and his lips were burnt clean off.

My cousins and I waged legendary bottle rocket fights. I was the meanest of them all mainly because I had to be: everyone took one look at my white fro and their eyes twisted into evil half moons.

When the adults ran out of their share of bottle rockets they dispatched Uncle Surl out to the field to babysit us. Uncle Surl is a cantankerous beer drinker who prefers solitude and great mystery novels to nights out, at least in his old age. His idea of a cruise is to pay for a bunk on a merchant ship and sail around the Pacific going to ports "they don't take the stupid tourists to." He became legend when, while boarding in Alaska, he slipped and fell all the way down the gangplank. Instead of fighting it, he thought "Eff it. I'll roll" and broke his leg. He also once stole the family town's city sign and planted it up at the North Pole.

Uncle Surl would trudge out to the field near the railroad tracks where we were all battling, the porch a glimmer in the distance.

"Here!" he'd bark, and produce a batch of pilfered bottlerockets from the porch. We were estatic as our supplies were dwindling. We prepared to light them off in our hands when Uncle Surl would holler "NO, no, you blockheads, you'll blow your da*mn hands off and then your mothers will nag me to death. Here." He downed the open bottle of beer in his right hand, finished off the one in his left, and plunked them down on a railroad tie.

"Stick 'em in this and then light 'em."

He'd watch for a few minutes, the resulting explosions reflecting off his thick glasses, before trudging across the field, back to our aunt's house.


There's something about the Fourth of July that brings me back to the Ozarks, even mentally, and even if I'm standing on the roof in the middle of the city with fireworks exploding all around me. The kids clamored around Chris as he lit bottle rockets in his hand, anxious to see if he'd blow his arm off. The sky was red and hazy from all the smoke.


Maybe it's because I'm older, but the night seemed to last longer when I was younger.

The opposite of sun worship

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When I first saw how bad the boys' sunburns were upon returning from their grandparents' I was shocked; when I saw that Ewan had developed blisters the size of quarters on his upper arms I almost cried and would have were not two boys depending on me to hold my stuff together. Chris and I washed their arms with vinegar and coated them with aloe. Ewan screamed and cried in pain. I had to hold him while Chris doctored his arms. He screamed "why is this happening to me?" and other things which caused Chris and I to give each other sorrowful looks.

In an effort to distract Ewan I thought of the silliest, most ridiculous thing to say, something which borrowed from the bathroom humor he finds so unbelievably hysterical.

"You know what I'm gonna do?" I asked him in a low voice.

"What?" he sobbed.

"I'm gonna go outside, find the sun, and kick the sun in the wiener for burning you."

 He burst into uncontrollable laughter.

"MOM." Liam slid into the doorway aided by his socks. "Suns don't have ..."


"They're balls of gas ..."


"Hahaha! MOM. Did you hear me?? I said 'balls!'"

Life with boys. 

Yesterday the boys got new sketching pads and Ewan sat in the kitchen, coloring furiously. When he was finished, he walked over to me and presented me with this:

Me kicking the sun in the wiener and the sun pooing, as drawn by Ewan.

OH YES. It IS what you think it is. It's me kicking the sun in the wiener, but kicking it so hard that the sun crapped itself. I cannot emphasize how much I adore the look on the sun's face.

"That's YOU, Mama!" Ewan said, enthusiastically pointing to the little person doing the kicking.

It's now hanging on the fridge, right next to his painting of "Hell But Not the Bad Word the Place."

The takeaway: be careful what you say to your kids. They may draw a visual representation of it.

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