Complaining About Fireworks, Daylight Saving Time & Leafblowers Is Just Another Parenting Stage
by Linda Sharps
When I was the parent of a noise-sensitive toddler and a never-sleeping baby, I hated Fourth of July fireworks. I hated how people started setting them off two days before the actual holiday, and how the sizzling pops and bangs went on forever -- like, it's midnight, have some goddamned consideration! -- on the night of the 4th. I hated every asshole who furtively set off an illegal mortar or two, activating sonic booms that would cause me to bolt upright in bed, waiting fearfully for a child to start crying. I hated all of it, and I complained bitterly about July's selfish noise-polluting jerks every chance I got.
Now that I have older kids and my own sleep/sanity isn't threatened by holiday-themed explosive pyrotechnic devices, I have a brand new perspective on fireworks, along with Daylight Saving Time, afternoon leaf blowers, and phones that ring after 8 PM. Namely: that the entire world does not in fact revolve around people with small children -- nor should it.
Here's the thing: as parents, when we complain about the insensitivity of someone getting trigger-happy with fireworks in the days leading up to the Fourth, we're really complaining about how our child's reaction to the event will affect us. Ditto to moving the clocks twice a year, or enduring the sound of a doorbell being pressed in the middle of naptime. When our children are very young, we get downright feral about preserving their sleep, which is why we fantasize about plunging a salad fork into the eyeball of the neighbor pressure-washing his driveway at 11 AM OH MY GOD HOW COULD HE DO THIS TO MEEEEEE.
I remember being angry at the Blue Angels for having the audacity to go screaming over our house during Seattle's Seafair festival. I imagined picking up the phone and calling, say, the Secretary of the Navy. "HELLO?" I would bark. "YEAH HI YOUR STUPID FLIGHT DEMONSTRATION SQUADRON JUST TOTALLY WOKE UP MY TODDLER SO YOU OWE ME $29 MILLION DOLLARS AND A NEW NAPTIME."
Peek at any social media platform during DST and you'll see thousands of parents bitching mightily about the horrible injustice of having to set the clocks forward or back. It screws up their kid's sleep schedule for weeks. It's totally pointless. It's the worst. I was like that too, until the beautiful year came when I could just send my kids to bed and whether or not they fell asleep right away didn't affect me at all. Now I can't wait to set the clocks forward because it signifies the end of the Pacific Northwest season of Just Kill Me when it's dark out at 4 PM, and I'm sorry, I cannot muster the energy to care that it's not universally loved by my fellow parents.
The fascinating thing about having children is how your world expands overnight -- yet somehow everything simultaneously narrows. In those early months, I think everyone has a sort of tunnel vision where it's all about just making it through the day. We react with fury to things that disrupt the flow, even though they're usually perfectly innocent (pressure-washing neighbor: "I'm sorry! I didn't know! Please put down the fork!").
It's natural to complain about things that make our lives harder, whether that's a chainsaw running down the street or a screeching ground spinner firework or a guy knocking on your door to hawk his carpet cleaning services. But honestly, no one should expect these things to go away because they have a baby at home. Life goes on, and life is loud and messy and if we're lucky, sometimes there are bitchin' roman candles.
And truly, the bottom line is that everyone has to serve their time in the trenches. Certain things just intrinsically suck with little kids, and the only way out is through. Eventually you'll be on the other side ... feeling just a tiny bit smug when everyone else is rending their garments over a few celebratory explosives.
Where do you stand on fireworks/noises/changing the clocks?