Wednesday afternoon I had to pick Jane up from a friend’s house and Alexander begged me to let him stay home alone. We talked about what to do, how to answer the phone, when to open the gate (never), and no media. I never mentioned don’t set any fires.
Wednesday night I was supposed to be at a Pre-Oscar party, it was a good one too. My friends at Chevy won Green Car of the Year and used a fleet of Volts to drive celebrities to the Global Green Party.
I was dressed and ready to head out for the evening. I said goodnight to my daughter and went to tuck my son into bed. His bedroom stank and I couldn’t quite place the smell. “Did you fart Alexander?” I gently teased him, and when he gave me a guilty look (as opposed to a chuckle because everyone knows farts are funny) I knew something was going on.
A quick scan of the room revealed a wad of toilet tissue on his desk with holes burnt into it. Burned, as in fire.
Upon closer examination I realized that he’d used his desk lamp to burn holes in the toilet tissue. Now, you may find this odd, but about a year ago we thought we had chemical disaster when we smelled something awful coming from Alexander’s bedroom. Apparently he’d discovered the joy of melting his rubber tipped erasers onto the same desk lamp. Like the toilet tissue it was dangerous, but also to be expected from a curious nine year old boy. Right? We talked to him about the safety issue, he cried, we thought it was all done.
I asked him when he was playing with the lamp and the toilet tissue and his eyes turned into saucers. He just stared at me.
“Was it when you were home alone?” My voice was cracking
He slowly nodded, and I felt like the world was slipping out from under me. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head: Little kids little problems. Big kids big problems.
If we ever have a problem bigger than this I think I’ll require a trip to the emergency room.
I stood in my son’s bedroom, burnt tissue in my hand and mascara running down my cheeks, “Mis-ter GEE!” I yelled downstairs, “You need to come talk to your son.”
My husband muttered a few things, Alexander nodded. I stood crying like an idiot in my cocktail dress and Mr. G. wrapped the whole thing up with, “Just don’t be stupid.”
We nailed that one.