Here’s the scene…newspaper (some charred) scattered about, an empty container of lighter fluid, a can of grill cleaner and a lighter all lying on the ground which is covered in fallen dried up pine needles under a large pine tree.
This past Sunday Chris was in the yard cleaning up fallen debris from last winter’s fury, when he came upon the kids so called “tree fort” which is under the pine tree in our side yard. It is a large enough space for three or four kids to congregate and play, and has enough privacy to be a cool fort. I had just come home from the grocery store and as I walked into the kitchen I heard Chris tell Grace that “there will be no TV or DS for at least one week1”
“What’s going on” I asked and Chris turned to me and said to “Go look at their tree fort”. I was in complete shock and horror at the scene. All I could think about was how did they possibly escape unscathed? The lighter had been missing for a few days and I just thought I had misplaced it. The two kids walked in the house one day in the previous week and had the hint of smoke about them, but we thought they probably got caught upwind from a neighbor’s lit fire pit and just let it go at that.
But what really happened was one of the worst things my two knucklehead kids ever did. They decided on their own to build a fire under the pine tree to supposedly “keep ourselves warm”. They say God protects babies and fools and this was one time I am so very thankful that he intervened! When I think of the potential of what could have happened with the lighter fluid, the dried pine needles and the fact that they put the fire out by spraying the cleaner onto the flame, my head simply reels. Everything in this scenario was stacked against them and somehow nothing major happened. Even down to the fact that out of all the spray cans in the garage to pick from in order to extinguish their fire, they selected probably one of the only cans with non-flammable contents.
So for punishment…suspending them from TV and the DS in my opinion was only the beginning for them. I started by showing the two of them graphic pictures from the internet of people who had been badly burned in fires. I told them that these people are the lucky ones who lived through all the pain and suffering to tell about it. Then Chris had them sit down and write “I will not play with fire” 100 times and they both had to write a letter to our local fire department to thank them for all they do. I addition Michael and Grace had to include in their respective letters the solemn promise that they will never ever play with fire.
But even this type of punishment is not enough to me in this case. What they need is to be more educated and we as parents need to take even greater precautions and care of where all of our potentially dangerous items are stored. So this I am writing as a warning to all parents. I never would have thought in a million years that my two would have gone ahead and pulled such a stupid stunt, but the fact of the matter is that they did and we as parents are the responsible party