When I was in fourth grade my parents decided to hire the tween next door to hang with me after school.
It felt like a great idea at the time –the time between school ending and them arriving home wasn’t horribly long and it was an affordable option for someone who was a pretty responsible 10 year old.
I remember being so excited about getting to hang with the cool girl after school. She was older, and pretty, and just, ridiculously cool. I remember she had big brown hair and she wore a for real bra and eye makeup even though she was only in the 8th grade (or the 7th? Or, 6th? I don’t know she was older is all).
The first time she came to hang out we played Barbies. I kinda remember acting like I wasn’t into it, but then she seemed to be, which meant I got to be too.
We had a snack she made in the humongous microwave oven that had its own cart and then we watched MTV, something I was never allowed to do when my parentals were home.
The second time was when it got real.
She came over with this huge bottle of Aquanet and spent the first 20 minutes in the bathroom teasing up her hair. Tease. Spray. Tease. Spray.
I stood in the doorway pretending to pet the cat that never let me pet him while surreptitiously watching her every move so I could reenact it later when I took down my ponytail before bed.
When she finished, she put the can down on the counter, turned to me and said, “Hey. You now how to make a blow torch?”
I tried to play it cool and shrug, because UM, NO. Do I need to know how to make a blow torch?
“I’ll show you,” she said.
Also, WHAT? She’s going to show me how to make a fire breathing machine?!
She pulled a lighter out of her back pocket (DO NOT EVEN ASK ME WHY SHE HAD THAT!), casually flicked it to light a few times, grabbed the can of hairspray and sprayed it above the flame directly in front of my bulging eyes.
Blow. TORCH. In. My. BATHROOM!
I guess my reaction was reassuring because she did it again.
And then, she got me to hold a piece of paper while she did it again and lit that on fire. And then, she walked us into the family room where she did it again on the floor. And then, in an extreme act of crazy pants crazy, she set up this whole, elaborate toy shrine for Barbie to be perched atop, and then she told me to stand back while she torched Barbie like a charbroiled burger.
Her air burst into flames. Her face began to melt. I looked on in horror. And then, when she was done, I continued to act as her accomplice and we buried that burned crispy broad in a shallow grave in the back yard.
My parents came home a short time later while we were hula hooping in the front yard and they were none the wiser.
Until it was time to move a few months later and the landlord (along with my parents) freaked out about the burned spots on the bathroom vanity, and the other ones on the living room floor.
They never suspected me of course and I wanted to tell, but I was sort of a punk.
I don’t want The Dudes to be punks.
I want them to be brave enough and educated enough to stand against what they think is wrong. Hairspray blow torches in the bathroom definitely fall into that category.
The National Fire Protection Agency partners with We Are Teachers to create SparkySchoolHouse and they asked us to share with you how they are making learning about fire safety during National Fire Safety Week fun for kids.
The new app, Sparky’s Brain Buster’s, challenges kids in a bout of brain busting activities covering a host of topics including social studies, science, math and, of course, fire safety.
The app has a ton of great info on it to help you and your family understand how to stay safe from fire and what to do in the event of one. And it’s great for classrooms too. Plus, it’s free and there aren’t ads or add-ons that kids will be begging you to let them get (Sparky doesn’t need to upgrade his hovercraft or fire hat, and you get more opportunities to play by doing math problems, not by buying them).
Dude 3 checked it out for us and, while there were some frustrations when Sparky started outsmarting him (he hates losing games, like HAAAATES it), he thought it was fun and at least 84% better than having to do the dummy-head-dummy math printable I give him in the car.
That’s where my boy Sparky comes in.
10 Things to Say To Your Kids About Fire Safety
1. There are things you can do to be safe around fire.
2. For starters, don’t think this is a game. Never play with any sort of incendiary device. Even if you think you know all about how to work that little lighter stick thingy your dad uses to start the grill, you don’t and you could burn things and people with your carelessness.
3. Make sure you tell your us (or another responsible adult) if you see something unsafe. Like a friend playing with matches, or making one of those hairspray torch things in your family room while your parents are at work.
4. Because you can help save lives and prevent damage if you speak up.
5. During fire drills, be sure you follow all of the rules.
6. Don’t panic. People who panic can’t make good choices.
7. Here is our fire plan. It tells you how to get out and where to meet us if we have a fire. Let’s go practice it now.
8. Knowing what to do in the event of a fire can save us. Not to mention your siblings and yourself.
9. Just don’t try to save anyone or anything yourself. Get to safety, call for help, and wait for it to arrive. Don’t try to be a hero. That’s what firemen (and women) are for.
10. Go play with Sparky. He’s sort of a big deal when it comes to fire safety.