About six or seven years ago I took my kids to see the fireworks on July 4th. Rancho San Rafael Park was absolutely packed. I had one child riding on my shoulders and the other, who has difficulty walking due to a stroke—especially back then, stumbling along beside me. The deepening nightfall made it increasingly difficult for my son to walk without falling on his face, so I finally found a few cubic feet of space and decided to stop before my son broke his ankle.
The whole crowd was standing, and I had my youngest child still on my shoulders so he could see the fireworks. That’s when I heard the mewling, annoyed voice.
“Thanks for ruining the fireworks for my family. Now my kids can’t see anything.” I was already irritated by the situation, and these complaints did little to alleviate that.
“You could just ask me politely to move,” I responded, making no attempt to mask my own rancor.
“My family got here early to pick out a nice place to sit so my kids could watch the fireworks, but you show up at the last minute and block our view. Thanks for ruining the holiday for my kids.” I turned around to face this woman, actually calculating how fast her husband might respond after I socked her in the face. I wouldn’t have done such a thing, most likely, but the fact that I thought about it at all shows I was not handling the situation or my emotions very well.
That’s when my youngest son intervened.
Perched atop my shoulders, he waved his hands over my shaved head, stared at it intently as if looking into a crystal ball and said, “I see…I see…an angry woman.” It took everything I had not to laugh out loud. He instantly diffused the situation. My thoughts of violence vanished and the “angry woman” even apologized and offered us cookies. It was a good thing there was someone present smarter than the adults to keep things from getting out of hand. One of the many blessings of children is that they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.