Through the fence 7-6-09 |

Through the fence 7-6-09

My son looks forward to celebrating the Fourth of July all year. He starts bugging me to stop at the local firework stand the minute they open up in mid June. Unfortunately, his 14 year old body has been hard at work growing lots of things, but not many new brain cells. So the part of his brain dedicated to reason and logic isn’t fully developed yet. Some women would argue that they don’t know many grown men whose is, but that’s a controversial can of worms I’m not about to open.

Late last July, Logan, my son’s regular partner in crime came over for the day. They had run through their usual gamut of activities: jumping on the trampoline, chunking rocks across the fence, and shooting the BB gun when my son, Landon, remembered his leftover stash of fireworks under his bed. They pulled the box out, excited to find 400 Black Cats, a half a dozen Roman candles, a handful of sparklers and a couple of punks to light them with. Gleefully they began blowing holes in coffee cans and other childish pranks that delight young boys.

They had been blasting away for about 30 minutes, when my husband and I decided to go on our evening walk. “Have fun, be careful and try not to blow your fingers off!” my husband said as we walked out of the driveway. When we returned, we saw Landon standing out by the road, holding a white towel against his chin. We thought that he was faking an injury to get a laugh, but he looked too serious to be joking.

“I’m sorry, Mama, I’m so sorry,” he kept repeating. Still expecting him to pull the towel off and start laughing, he slowly lowered it to reveal the bottom half of his face. It looked white and puffy, and the rag was full of ice chips.

We knew that he had burned his face, but he was so shell-shocked that he wasn’t making much sense. Finally, Logan stepped forward and revealed the details of how the injury occurred. When blowing up cans, leaves, and pieces of fruit got boring, they went inside to revisit the box. Logan said that Landon decided to take apart a Roman candle, which he did, and sprinkled all the gun powder and other explosives into a plastic box for further examination. In a momentary brain lapse teenage boys are infamous for, Landon leaned over the box with a lit punk smoldering in his hand.

A spark from the punk instantly ignited the gunpowder in a quick blast of boiling hot smoke and ash. The flashfire was painful but didn’t have the disastrous results that it could have, such as severe burns or the loss of an eye. Landon ran into the bathroom to douse his blistered face with cold water. “It was such a hysterical sight, him running around with his head smoking,” Logan said later, “but I knew better than to laugh right then.”

I decided not to take him to the emergency room since the burns didn’t seem too deep. I resorted to the next best thing – the medicine cabinet at my friend, Terrie’s house. I knew from past experience with other disasters that she’d have the cure. She did. It was a jar of silver sulphadiazine, a burn cream that we applied to his entire lower face and gave him a strong pain killer.

We followed up at the pediatrician’s office in a few days, and all Landon wanted to know was whether or not he could attend church camp the next week in the Colorado Rockies. The doc approved but with strict orders not to swim in a pond or a pool or to be out in direct sunlight. All that seemed to defeat the purpose of camp to me, but he agreed to the restrictions.

I kept that old green tee-shirt he was wearing the night of the misfire as a friendly reminder of what can happen in a careless, unguarded moment. He won’t celebrate the Fourth of July here this year. He’s already left for camp, and hopefully fireworks won’t be a part of his celebration.

Lisa welcomes e-mail correspondence from readers, and is also available for public speaking engagements. She can be reached by e-mail at

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