Do you know what your child would do when you are not around? Apparently I didn’t, but I do now. I was in Las Vegas last weekend keynoting at Blogalicious. My children were at home. I have a 14 year old, an 11 year old and a 9 year old. My 9 year old had some friends over for a sleep over that Saturday I was gone. Her besties. They have been to our home a number of times in the past. I love it when they come because the three of them ignite each other’s imaginations. They create mermaid videos, they hunt for fairies, they concoct spells. It’s fantastic.
When my child was younger, entertaining herself on her own she would create potions. Unfortunately it was with all of my personal toiletries in my bathroom sink. But it was hard to be mad at her curiosity. Sure it cost me some extra money, but it didn’t hurt anyone, and it made her happy. My daughter has always been interested in science. And given how few girls are choosing the science road I want to do everything I can to support her scientific journey. So, I give up a few toiletries.
Back to present day. While I was in Las Vegas my scientifically curious daughter and her equally curious friends decided to create some ambiance in her bedroom with candles. They retrieved a candle jar from my bedroom, along with the long lighter. They lit up the Cider fragrance candle to aid in their spell design. At some point, staring at the flame, a question came to their young minds. “Would gum burn?” (Yes, all you fellow parents out there, this story is indeed about to go in that direction. I can hear your heartbeat quickening through the computer. Hold on tight). So these three inquisitive children decided to put their hypothesis to work. Now I am taking a little poetic license with the following section of the story because I have had some difficulty exacting the whole unadulterated truth from the three little
witches fairies to date. But I believe that I have the highlights correct. The gum was lit using the flame of the cider scented candle, and they quickly discovered the answer to their question, “yes, gum will burn.” The real surprise was how fast it burns. It ignited so fast that it singed my daughters’ fingers and she dropped the flaming ball to the ground. The ground being her bedroom carpet. Once it landed, as I am sure you can imagine, it proceeded to burn the carpet. My daughter reacted by spraying the fireball with hair product. (Oh yes, yes she did). That made the fire worse , (duh!) so she then threw one of her cloth purses ontop of it. (Do you sense a trend?) Finally she found a spray bottle with water in it and doused the minifire until it was just a charred mess. This whole scenario probably took less than 30 seconds to complete, but I bet it felt a lot longer to the girls. I can’t tell you exactly what the three girls did after this ordeal, but I can most assuredly tell you what they didn’t do. They didn’t tell ANYONE! There was an adult in the house, there were older siblings in the house, but the girls didn’t seek counsel from any of them. Instead they put the CD player ontop of the burned out carpet and went on their merry, fairy way.
Now I bet you are asking yourself, “if they didn’t tell anyone how do I know any of this?” Well, fast forward to Wednesday. I enter my daughter’s room, which, as a nine year old with vast interests, resembles the aftermath of a small tornado. As I tend to do, while soothingly coaxing her awake with my voice, I start picking up clothes, toys, books and another accoutremonte of childhood off of her floor and put them away in the oft neglected containers meant to retain order amidst the chaos. After peeling away a layer or two I arrive at the CD player. Upon moving it my voice becomes anything but soothing. The veins pop out of my neck and my questions to my child fire fast and furious out of my gaping mouth. She was up now, and working her defense out in her head while evading my pointed questions. Her imaginative process isn’t just for playtime, she is very good at applying it to sticky situations when she doesn’t want to admit to her actions, particularly those actions that can and will lead to punishment. But I remind her, as her eyes dart back and forth between my face and the charred floor, that lying is a capital offense in my World. Lying will add more time to your sentence. Stepping up and pleading out is the best and most expedient way to go. And though I know she understands this fact she continues to dig a deeper hole of untruths. But mothers have a unique way of extracting information, and we do so as a team. I reached out to the mother of her galpals and between the two of us we achieved a proper confession.
Yes, I was furious about the ruined carpet, but there were two things that I was most upset about. One, that my daughter lied to me repeatedly and unabashedly, to my face. But two, and this is the deep one, that my daughter’s instinct to cover her own but outweighed her instinct to keep herself and those around her safe. That’s an offense that can’t be remedied with punishment. That offense can only be remedied with rehabilitation and education. As a result we are having some refresher courses at my house about fire safety. Here are some of the highlights:
- No lighting candles on your own
- No burning other items in a candle
- Most things will burn no need to test their flamability
- Experiments should be done in a lab or otherwise controlled environment, not your bedroom
- If something does catch on fire NEVER spray hair products, cleaning products or other chemicals on it.
- ALWAYS call out for help when in an emergency situation. No one should go it alone.
So my daughter got grounded, extra days for lying, she got a lesson that we will keep revisiting, and she will eventually get a new carpet, eventually. Yet when all was said and done, after the veins had receded in my neck, there was but one thought that came to my mind; “I’ll bet Marie Curie’s mother had a story just like this one.” The battle scars of raising a curiously motivated child. I just hope that I ultimately fair better than my daughter’s carpet.
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV, Wearetherealdeal.com, YoungChicagonista, and TheChicagoMoms.com. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, TOUT and LinkedIn.