I was raised in a small town and my kids are being raised in that same small town.
One of the benefits to being raised in a small town is that you attend school with the same group of kids from kindergarten until you graduate high school and move out into the great big world.
This could be good or bad, depending on your social standing or if you were the kid who picked his nose constantly in the 2nd grade and still had that reputation as a high school senior.
I don't remember what year it happened, but there was a fire at the home of one of my classmates. Nobody was hurt, physically, and the home was rebuilt and life resumed it's lazy pace in our small town. But of course, the fire story never really was extinguished because the boy's father was . . . a fireman.
There is nothing worse than a fireman's house catching on fire - a fire started by a coffee pot that was left on, by the fireman. Imagine the humiliation when the fire engine, aid units and tankers showed up to put out the blazing fire at the home of one of their own. Imagine the joking that followed at the firestation, the teasing, the razzing.
If you can't imagine this scenario, just watch a few episodes of "Rescue Me," and you'll understand.
My friend was a funny guy, he was often the class clown and always made others smile. Besides being a good student, he was popular and an athlete, so the "fire" jokes didn't scar him for life, but nobody ever forgot about it. Ever.
When I came home last night and the smoke alarms were sounding, how could this happen, I was only gone for 5 minutes? I went right inside the house. An orangish glow was coming from the bathroom and my husband (THE FIREMAN) was upstairs telling the kids, "It's nothing, probably just a match mommy lit," as he was walking downstairs to investigate.
When I looked in the bathroom and saw the backpack on fire, the flames almost to the ceiling, the smoke, I grabbed the flaming towel hanging from the wall and threw it on the flames. I pushed hard on it and batted until there was no more orange, only black - everywhere.
Standing behind me, my husband reached around to grab the scoarching backpack and bring it outside - burning his hand on the melted material in the process.
I took whatever was left and followed.
We looked at each other.
We looked at our kids.
We looked at our bathroom.
We are so lucky.
The damage done by our little fire took a while to clean up. Soot does not want to come off of white walls easily and I suspect a painting project will be in my near future. We ran fans for hours and opened windows and joked about "lighting a candle" to get rid of the smell. We discussed the lesson learned with our kids, who remained remarkably calm through the whole ordeal.
Do not throw backpacks on top of burning candles, was one lesson.
Do not leave candles burning when fireman husband (who was tired from getting a cortizone shot in his lower back that very morning) is alone with children, was another.
Wyatt's backpack was ruined, along with his homework folder, coat and some other things that were inside. Lucky for him, he got the actual homework out before he threw his pack on the candle. But still, he was anxious to get to school and share the story with his teacher and friends.
Should make for interesting bus stop conversation don't you think?
"Hey Wyatt, remember that time you almost caught your family's bathroom on fire?"
"Heh, Heh, yeah - and your Dad is a FIREMAN!"
Fits of laughter follow and Wyatt saying, "Oh, gimmee a break - it was just a little fire and besides, my Mom put it out."