Word Count: 740
I hate washing dishes. When I do, I am usually lost I some personal philosophical debate. So, when the phone rang, I jumped, dropping the dish back into the sink. I grabbed the phone, dripping soap suds all over the floor.
“Hello,” I said.
"Oh, hi Amy,” I greeted my neighbour.
“What!” I turned to look out my kitchen window. I dropped the phone back in its place without saying goodbye. There was a roaring campfire in my back yard. My six year old son was gleefully feeding wood into its flames. I ran out the back door. Our budding pyro-technician was at it again.
“David!” I hollered. “What do you think you are doing?”
“I did it Mom,” he said. “I made a fire by rubbing two sticks together.”
I groaned, remembering his explanation earlier in the day about this very project. It was one of those times when you answer, “Oh, that’s nice honey. Have fun,” and then go back to what you were doing.
“David,” I asked. “Where did you get the matches?” I didn’t believe for one minute that he got this fire going by rubbing two sticks together.
“It was taking too long, Mom, but I didn’t use matches.”
“I’ll get the hose.” I said.
“But Mom!” he wailed. I wish I could count the times I’d heard that response. I turned on the hose and doused the fire. “You Light Up My Life” took on a whole new meaning with this kid.
“I still don’t see how you did this without matches, David.” I said.
“I didn’t use matches Mom, just two sticks,” he said. “Really.”
I gave him my evil eye and raised my eyebrows, hoping to look menacing enough to inspire the truth.
“It was really neat, Mom.”
“Well, first, I cut a hole in a piece of duct tape and taped a piece of paper onto the board with it. Then I sprayed the paper with WD40 (where he got that is anyone’s guess). Then I rubbed the sticks together and got -FIRE!” He was so proud of himself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry –I never did.
In the end I did neither. I took a deep breath and repeated my lecture on the dangers of playing with fire. I don’t think he heard me, but I had an obligation as a mom to deliver the message anyway. I’m sure his little mind was already developing his next devious little escapade. It never ended.
Through the years, I found plastic pop bottles mutilated by heat from the magnifying glass and boards out behind the back poach with his name burned into them. There is a mark on my linoleum where he dropped a burning Kleenex. He confessed years later about the plastic garbage bag he filled with propane and dropped a match on, just to see what would happen. He said it was the coolest thing he ever did.
When he was sixteen, he came to my room early one Saturday morning and woke me up.
“I don’t want to tell you this Mom, but…” he began. I peeked cautiously out from under the covers, my one morning to sleep in disturbed again. I thought about trying the evil eye on him, but it had never worked anyway.
“What is it David?” I asked.
“Well, I was trying to see what would happen if I poured gas out of a bottle and lit the stream of gas on fire.” I groaned and pulled the covers back over my head.
“Mom,” he continued. “I burned my hand.” I came out of hiding.
“Let me see.” I said. He held up a hand covered with regular sized band aids.
“I wasn’t sure how I should treat it, otherwise I wouldn’t have told you,” he said.
“What a surprise,” I replied.
I removed some of the band aids and looked at the affected area. Fortunately it wasn’t serious, but I gave him the fire lecture again any way.
David is now grown and making a life for himself. He still occasionally confesses some fire episode that he never told us about. At this point, I understand my mother’s desire not to know. We made it through with our house still standing, so I know God is good. I often wonder, though, if he will ever have a child who will “light up” his life as he has mine.