5-Year-Olds and Fireworks

Adam Hillis
4 min readJul 10, 2018

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. —Walt Disney

Having three kids all under the age of 6 we don’t really do stuff late at night. In general terms, I’d say I’m probably the more laid back parent of the two of us. However, I’m kinda the bedtime nazi.

When our oldest was almost a year old I read a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Basically it became my Bible. Whenever anything was going wrong with our kids, invariably I found a way to blame it on lack of sleep and point to something in the book.

Luckily I’ve eased off a bit. But when the 4th of July came around with all its fireworks I didn’t plan on letting my kids stay up.

Living in northern Oregon means the sun in the summer isn’t gone (resulting in prime firework visibility) until about 10pm. Do they just shoot off fireworks in the daylight in Alaska?

Typically the two littlest are in bed between 6pm and 7pm depending on the days they’ve had. Staying up until 10pm would be a rough experience.

Asher, who will turn 6 in six weeks, reads in bed about 7:45pm-8:45pm. Then we turn the lights off around 9pm. He gets up anywhere between 2 and 10 times depending how many ideas and thoughts he needs to tell us about, and falls asleep somewhere in the neighborhood of 10pm-ish.

My thinking was that if we took him to a nearby firework show that started around 10pm, his regular routine would get pushed back until we were home at 11pm, meaning he’d probably fall asleep around 12:30am or 1am.

Kindergarteners who stay up that late aren’t usually the most fun to be around the next day.

My wife, of course, asks the question, “When will you let our kids stay up late enough to get to see fireworks?”

The reality was I was just being selfish.

I wanted my kids in bed at a decent time so I could have a nice evening with my wife, and I didn’t want to deal with a tired and cranky child that I assumed would emerge in the morning after being up too late.

We settled on letting Asher stay up to watch some fireworks on TV. That way we wouldn’t have to deal with all the people and the traffic and insanity. He could still get to bed about 11:30pm.

Show Time

As we were watching the thousands of fireworks being launched off of 7 barges on the water in New York, we looked out our window and realized we could see quite a few explosions right outside.

I took Asher out to the commons area of our condo and there were probably 10 different fireworks displays going on in our 180 degree view.

We didn’t have any cool music to go along with it, but it was pretty sweet seeing all the colored sparks in the night’s sky.

One, maybe two, shows were professional ones happening in neighboring cities. The others were all locals shooting off illegal mortars in their neighborhoods.

Asher was mesmerized.

On more than once occasion he told me how much cooler they were than the ones on TV.

Then it hit me.

I’m Old, He’s Young

There have been 36 Independence Days, 35 New Years, dozens of Disneyland adventures, a Disney World honeymoon, numerous sporting events, and more where I have watched large fireworks displays.

This is a new experience for my son. No wonder he’s so enthralled!

Sometimes I forget my child is a child.

We do so much “normal life” together that everything just feels normal. But it’s not for him.

Things like fireworks are fascinating and new to my kids in a way that they haven’t been for me in a couple of decades.

I relished this moment with my son. He was more fun to watch than the explosions.

As we walked back inside I told myself to not forget this evening’s realization.

Asher LOVES life more than anyone I know. My agenda needs to lose out to him more often. I want him to have an experience-enriched life where he gets to be filled with joy because of encountering new things.

Even if it means the next morning he’s a little extra cranky and tired.

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Adam Hillis

Crafting educational email courses for coach/creators || Coaching men to connect w/ their wife & kids, and themselves || I juggle marriage, kids, and words