There are a lot of things one could say to excuse my actions on that one 4th July many years ago. My elder sister should have been more careful, my mother more observant and the sparkler company should have put a more convincing warning on the box that these sticks of fire are not suitable for use around young children. Even after considering all those fine arguments, the fact remains: I ran beeline (with probably my eyes closed) towards my eldest sister, Elaine, who was holding a sparkler in each hand. I might have been mad at her, I might have been sad at her or just a crazy 5-year-old girl that had consumed copious amounts of candy that day. Whatever the reason, my actions resulted in me being severely burned on the chin by a sparkler and my sisters calling me “chin girl.”
Like any human being with fully functioning nerve endings, I screamed out in pain. Elaine then started screaming as well: “Mom! I don’t know what happened! She just ran at me!” Our mother rushed over, confused and concerned: “Leslie! Elaine! How did this happen?!?! Elaine, were you running with the sparklers?!?!”
A screaming match ensued between my mother and eldest sister as they both tried to tend to my incinerated chin. I kept swatting their hands away as they tried to pull me to the kitchen sink to run cold water over my burns. Instead, I insisted, screaming, that popsicles were the best medicine to cool my tender skin. My father then got involved to keep me from hitting my mother and sister. Ice was forcibly applied to my wounds and I finally calmed down.
From the whole insistent I walked away with a nasty scar on my chin that lasted for almost a year, a reasonable fear of sparklers and a cruel family nickname that appears to be lasting a life time. Did I mention that the whole incident occurred during a neighborhood picnic, which my parents were hosting? Needless to say, after that volatile Fourth of July, I wasn’t invited very often over to the neighbors’ for playtime.