I suspected, when we decided to have a few friends over on Saturday for some hotdogs and fireworks, that the latter were going to be a bit hit and miss as far as the children were concerned.
Fireworks are, after all, slightly terrifying even for grown-ups, being that they are small bombs you deliberately set off in your own garden. But I wasn't sure whether, for a largely intrepid two-year-old, they would be a source of fascination or fear.
The week before, in preparation, I had shown Ruby and her big sister Ava a few YouTube videos of some very impressive displays. I did wonder if I might be setting their hopes a little high, given the ones we'd be having at home would be considerably fewer and farther between, would not be gloriously reflected in the River Thames, and would be illuminating the top of the shed (where a fox has left a disgusting half chewed bone of some sort) rather than Big Ben and the London Eye.
Nevertheless, their reaction was a good one. While Ava oooooh-ed, Ruby squealed and stuck her nose right against the screen of the laptop to see if she could soak up any more of that atmosphere.
Days later, when Dan returned from the shops with two boxes of fireworks, the girls were besides themselves.
"LOOK!" said Ruby, "Look, look! FI-YE-wos!"
They elbowed past each other to get a better look at the sealed boxes while we explained we'd have to wait for it to get dark before we could open them. It was when I told the girls that fireworks go 'bang' Ava's expression changed. She's never liked loud noises, so we agreed she should watch from the spare room upstairs.
Ruby, meanwhile, seemed completely unfazed. She jumped excitedly on the spot, yelling "BANG BANG!" (which soon changed to "BOING BOING!" – presumably as she lost her train of thought) and she bounced out of the kitchen. Anyway, I reckoned we'd give it a go with Ru.
At 6pm, everyone in their places, I held Ruby tightly and told her (as I tried to ignore the rising panic we were about to set fire to a neighbour's roof) how exciting it was going to be. Uncle Jake made his way to the end of the garden with a taper, and I upped the anticipation even further for Ru with little gasps and squeezes, which she gleefully reciprocated.
With the rocket lit and fizzing, wide-eyed Ruby whispered breathily "Woweeeeeeee..."
How to describe her reaction when that thing screeched loudly then shot into the air... well, you know what a newborn babies look like when they startle? You know? They go all rigid, and their little limbs shake? Ruby did that continuously as the rocket made its way into the sky, and when it exploded into dozens of beautiful emerald gems, she screamed "WAAAAAAAAAHHH!"
It was a short-lived spectacle. Whistles and bangs over, tearful Ruby turned to me with the biggest, angriest pout I've ever seen her manage, slapped me on the nose and said: "NNNNNNO."
Then she wriggled to get down from my arms and crossly stomped indoors.
I don't condone her clouting me in the face of course, but clearly Ruby felt she had been duped. In the light of the morning, when she looked out of the French doors, pointed to the evening's detritus on the patio, and said: "Look! LOOK! Fi-ye-wos!" I understood why.
She hadn't signed up for screeches and explosions, of course she had not made the link between the videos I'd shown her and the colourful boxes Daddy had brought home.
And as she pressed her face against the window and dreamily said "woweeeeee!" I decided I'd better give Ruby what she wanted.
Having checked there were absolutely no explosives left inside, I let my little girl spend the morning the way she probably thought she was going to spend fireworks night – with a pretty box on her head.