Three blog posts in a row about the firestorm, eh? Hmm, things are getting awfully serious around here. Enough! It’s time we started laughing again, after all, laughter is the best medicine. And what better way to get a laugh than at my expense? So, here’s a little Halverson adventure from a few months ago. Yes, there are some flames in it, but it should transition us from the sad to the happy. Perhaps you’ll learn a lesson from my story, perhaps you’ll see yourself in it, perhaps you’ll just shake your head and wonder how I got picked to be responsible for three impressionable young humans. . . .
You see, I lit the house on fire early this year. Well, not the house itself, just the toaster oven on the counter. Actual flames shot out of it, right up to the roof. Although, to be honest, I didn’t even see the inferno. I was busy sitting on the living room floor, commiserating on the phone with the quadruplet mom up the street about sick children and the books we could write about them, when my husband hollered, “Fire!” and dashed past me to the kitchen.
That got my attention.
With the phone still at my ear, I swiveled to see my husband grab our flaming toaster oven, yanking the plug right out of the wall!, and then race it toward the front door. Instantly, I knew what had happened: I’d put corn tortillas in there, set the dial, and then forgot about them in the excitement of the phone call and my son’s naked “Man! Man! Man!” streaking.* (Read the post Potty Training, Part I: The Toddler Potty (Black &) Blues, and you’ll learn what that strangeness is all about.)
In his wake, my husband left huge clouds of smoke and three screaming children. I didn’t help calm them any by yelling, “Fire!” into the phone then dropping it to run to the kitchen myself. Spun full circle by my husband as he crashed past me, I ended up back to the living room, where I grabbed the two nearest children (one being the naked-from-the-waist-down streaker) and dashed out to the porch as fast as I could to try to beat the fire alarm, which I knew would surely scare the bejeezus out of them. My husband went back in for shrieking third child.
For the next ten minutes, we all sat on the porch, trying to calm down as we watched the now-extinguished toaster oven sizzle on the driveway.
Strangely enough, through all this, the fire alarms never went off. We’d just changed the batteries on them the day before, so I’m guessing there wasn’t quite enough smoke to set them off? Anyway, Streaker Boy and his frozen cajones finally decided to head back into the house, where my husband had opened all the doors and windows and set up fans to air out the smoke. The undaunted child launched into full “Man! Man! Man!” mode again, running about screaming in joy like nothing had happened. I followed him, amazed at his resilience, taking the other two boys with me. That’s when the fun really cranked up: In his euphoria, Streaker Boy dashed to the back sliding door and went to lean on it, per routine, only to find out the hard way that it was OPEN.
Cut to B-movie pratfall of child flipping backward and landing in the backyard.
Now here’s where I get the biggest bad mark (as if forgetting the oven and letting it catch on fire wasn’t bad enough): Even as I ran to hug my crying child, I was laughing wildly. The pratfall was so darn funny to watch, with his naked legs flying upward and his milk cup sailing through the air. Terrible, I know. I know! Yet I laugh even now. He was fine in seconds, I swear. My poor baby . . .
And my poor quad mom friend! When I called her up a while later to check in, she was so relieved. The last thing she’d heard was me yelling, “Fire!!” and a child screaming in the background. She’d thought one of the boys had pulled down a pot of hot something from the stove and burned himself. Goodness, how terrible!
While I joke about it now, this whole experience grounded me, making me agree with my husband’s comment that this was a lesson, one that was luckily learned without anyone getting hurt: Pay attention whenever you’re cooking, even if it’s something as simple as a toasted tortilla. That fire could have easily lit the cabinets above. Yikes. And also: Check your fire extinguisher monthly. Did you know you’re supposed to do that? I didn’t . . . until I checked the instructions on it after the fire. That thing has been under the sink for seven years, but we’ve never checked it once.
Ah, well, another lesson learned, another story for the memory books, another night at the Halverson house.