Fourth of July in Bali

Last night was my first-ever Fourth of July party hosted by an Englishman, living here in Bali. His daughters made an arts-and-crafts American flag from scratch, quitting at 12 stars until their mother, a Chinese-American woman, suggested a thirteenth star, for the original colonies.

Afterward we went to the beach for fireworks that definitely would have been illegal in all 50 states. These fireworks were shooting thirty, forty meters (or more) into the air.

I've never been a fan of illegal fireworks (although to be fair these weren't illegal fireworks, but you know what I mean: Fireworks set off by regular Joes who probably know next-to-nothing about explosives. For me, the excitement of fireworks have never outweighed the dangers.

After the main event, one of the parents said something to the effect of, OK, now we've got [something] for the kids. I can't remember exactly what they were called, but based on the name and based on the fact that they were for children, I assumed they were whipper snappers, those tiny relatively harmless things that go Bang when you throw them on the ground.

It turned out they were not whipper snappers but instead tiny sticks of what appeared to be dynamite, and not really all that tiny: four or five inches long, an inch thick, but fortunately with no discernible wick. Because nobody could figure out which end to light, none of the children were given sticks of dynamite. These kids were four or five years old, some maybe seven or eight.

I really couldn't believe anyone would give those to children.

I've noticed that many ex-pats living abroad appear to be irresponsible in their parenting, perhaps taking too many cues from local cultures, where maybe it's OK for your child, sometimes even infants, to ride on the front of a scooter with no helmet. I think American parents tend to be a bit overprotective at times, but there is no reason to put a small child on the front of a scooter, especially with no helmet in a beach town where taxis start at less than $0.60 USD for the first few kilometers. More often than not an adult with a child-sans-helmet will have their own helmet.