Normal families like fireworks, most families look forward to burning a replica of a man on a fire and whooping as lights burst open in fury in the sky.
We are not a normal family.
I have dreaded bonfire night since the twins were small when Molly devolped an irrational fear of bangs. Stick her in a place with exploding rockets and expect screams whinyer than a Catherine Wheel.
Her twin, loves them, probably even more so because he knows she hates them.
She is quite happy going anywhere with hot chocolate and hot dogs. She couldn’t really give a toss about the fireworks if food is on hand.
So on bonfire night, I am always going to lose.
One of my kids will end up either disappointed or suffering terror that is going to cost me in therapist bills later down the road.
Basically I am fecked.
This year came around fast and suddenly we were sat on a brown wooden step, frozen to the core, a bonfire building in front of us, offering no real heat and a life threatening sparkler grasped in our mittened palms.
The sparklers took one minute to burn down. In those sixty seconds I managed to protect countless children from losing an eye as I danced around Libby and Owen, who proceeded to disregard everything we had spoken about sparklers and were trying to reenact the capture of Guy Fawkes through fireplay.
Molly merely sat on the bench, held her sparkler like it was a rag drenched in shite and let it burn out. Her anger at being dragged to her eighth firework night was glowing on every aspect of her face.
Then it began with a boom.
Then a bang.
Then a whistle and a pop.
Then an almighty clash of the titans as the sky erupted in wondrous colour.
Molly screamed throughout. My stand up to what scares you and stay calm therapy didn’t work (again). Anyone who says facing up to your fears will conquer all has yet to watch a traffic light firework exhibition with Molly.
Her very being was trembling, my nerves were shattered. Owen whooped more at his sisters discomfort then suddenly Libby-sue realised that there was no hot chocolate on offer and the night started to collapse into tears and madness.
Without any gin in sight I bundled up my trio and we matched inside where Molly calmed and Libby continued to tantrum about the lack of thick chocolate to get her through the evening.
Owen stropped, gutted to be only seeing not hearing the fireworks.
So we made a deal.
He could finish the soup I had just purchased inside and then if he promised to not touch a sparkler or volunteer to help light a rocket, he could join the crowd outside.
He agreed, took a slurp of his soup, declared it all done and dashed outside, hands still firmly wrapped around the polystyrene cup.
It is not the first time he has fibbed to me and I stored it in my telling off later box.
The fireworks continued, Molly even raised a smile from under the table where she hid. Libby was settled with a promise of a hot chocolate later, Owen was out of sight.
Then I heard it.
Louder than a firework, screechier than a tortured moggy, a wail of pain reached my ears, piecing them in the process.
I turned slowly.
In front of me, making all the noise, was a soup sodden child. Dripping from head to toe in chicken broth, howling like a cockerel being castrated.
It was my son.
He sobbed, ‘I fell on the stairs, soup on my head.”
Now at this point, I would like to tell you how I made him feel better through love and cuddles. And if that Tesco Mum of the Year fella comes knocking I am going to lie.
Under the table, Molly muttered “muppet”.
Libby giggled at the sight.
And my telling off later box burst open.
“What did I tell you,” I began, and proceeded to list the repercussions of fibbing as soup dropped in his eyes.
Then, suddenly a team of concerned women arrived round me, armed with wet towels and concern.
“Is he burnt badly? Is he ok, we have a first aider. Is he blistered, quick check, the soup was scolding.”
I turned into Mother Theresa on the spot.
“Honey,” I soothed, “are you ok? Does it hurt?”
The kid continued to wail in a way that suggested it hurt like hell, but each cry finished in a question mark as he tried to move soup from his eyes to see who had replaced his mother….
I don’t think for one minute the other mums believed my act
Please don’t tell the Tesco chap.
I am calling in sick next year.