Fireworks, Scared to Sleep, and Outright Bribery

China just finished filling the skies over English Bay with brilliant bursts of colour. If the sounds and sparkles we could see through the trees were any indication, it was another one of their spectacular shows. They’re always my favourite – technical, placement and timing precise and just so, set to fitting and to Western ears unusual music. Cameron and I watched some of what we could, standing at my livingroom window. I’m a little sad that I missed it this year. In past years I’ve gone right down to sit on the beach at English Bay, amid the crowds and excitement. I’ll never forget the first year that I saw China’s display, and thought it was hands-down the best I’d ever seen – only to learn the next day that less than a third of their planned fireworks actually went off! This year, with all the hype and to-do about the Olympics, I’m sure that China ensured it was their best show yet.

Today, it was clear that bribery can work. Cameron stayed dry all day. He then enjoyed immensely the promised yogurt treat at Starbucks. He stayed dry all evening, then crunched his prized two smarties in the tub, blue eyes wide, teeth doing little munch-munch-crunches. He doesn’t swallow until the very last possible moment where it’s either swallow or drool.

It’s clear that at least part of what is going on is that he’s working on some big changes in his head. Today he woke early from what I assume was a nightmare. He bawled when I dropped him off at daycare (he’s scared of a dragon toy there that wasn’t tucked away). Apparently he recovered from that, but fought off napping. When I picked him up, instead of slowly drawing a few wee little dribbles of information out of him on the bus, he excitedly volunteered chatter about his day, with ‘grown up’ phrases like, “And then.” He very clearly ‘got’ the idea of deals again – that had disappeared for a while. By deals, I mean, “Okay, okay, you can open the door to leave Starbucks, but as soon as we’re outside I need you to go piggyback.” Yesterday he would’ve said “Yes,” then gone back on his word. Today, he happily jumped onto my back.

At home … my oh my. Whirlwind doesn’t begin to describe him. Remember those super-bouncy super balls? One fling and they bounce with zany randomness everywhere? Yeah. That was Cameron. Zoom! Zip! Bounce on the chair! Jump on Mommy! Run over here! Run over there! Spin around and around and around while shrieking, then fall down shouting, “I’m fizzy! I’m fizzy!” Jump on Mommy, wrap around around her neck and swing!

Bedtime was met with sobs and what I think were very real tears. “No like sleep! I don’t want to sleep! No sleep, no put me to sleep mommy! Don’t put me in bed Mommy! No!” I tried talking to him about sleep, but no go. He was too worked up. I tried talking about the river, a ploy that sort of worked. Cameron stopped crying and settled, but he didn’t go to sleep. Every time I figured ‘enough’, he’d beg for more about the leaves, or the stars, or the river. I finally explained to him that this was enough, he had to go to sleep, and left him to cry.

He’d just settled down when the booms, bangs, thuds, and crackles started. A few passed unnoticed, then he screamed. Small wonder, the house kinda rattles a little with each of the big ones. You can tell when they’re sending a big charge high; it’s the bass thump that you more feel than hear. So I brought him out in the dark livingroom, and showed him where we could see the sparkles through the leaves. Our street is lined with ginormous old maple trees – in drier years I’ve been able to see more of the fireworks, but this has been a damp one, so the foliage is dense and there wasn’t much to see. But he listened, and watched, while I talked quietly about fireworks and what they are. After the intro display, they typically do quiet and more artsy stuff for a bit, so we settled into a chair to listen.

By the time the finale’s booms rattled the windows and the sky lit up with reds and golds even above the trees, he was snoring softly. Cameron woke slightly when I got up, and gazed out at the last flickers.

Best of all, there not only were no tears as I tucked him into bed – as I gently lifted him over the crib rail, Cameron wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me on the cheek. “Niiiiigghhh Mommmmmeeee.

I’m so tempted to take Cameron to see the fireworks on Saturday night, from one of the parks across the bay, not right down at the ‘front row’. While the show is best there … it’s much louder, much busier, and much more in-your-face. There is no escape, should it be terrifying for Cameron, and my goal is not to scar him for life. On the other hand … he won’t remember not going. It won’t kill me to not see them for the second year in a row, and perhaps I can find someone to babysit and still go. But if we go and he hates it, THAT he might remember forever. If I take the stroller, he’ll be able to sleep on the long trek home – there’s no chance of bus or taxi, trust me. But it’ll still be a late, late, late night for us both.

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One response to “Fireworks, Scared to Sleep, and Outright Bribery

  1. Since i’ve taken time off to figure things out for myself, I’ve realized I’ve given up a lot to be a mom. As a single mom, you’ve given up way more. I often am weighing my desire to do something against how much work it would be to do it with monkey. As you can guess, the amount of work is usually not worth the “joy”. But I am now regretting those decisions as I’m feeling like I’ve lost myself to my son. Sometimes the late night it worth doing what you need.

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