I learned a lot of things growing up that I probably shouldn’t have learned. Stuff no adult ever taught me. Unsafe things. Things that involved sharp edges, electricity, poisonous chemicals, flammable or explosive materials. Stuff I won’t write about in any detail for legal reasons hey stop looking at me like that! I never hurt anyone and I’ve got all my fingers and toes. Get over it.
They say your kids can teach you a lot. And it’s true. Since having my three boys, I’ve learned some unsafe things I missed when growing up. For instance, my youngest son taught me that it takes less than one minute to fully melt and set fire to a toy megaphone. Here’s the story.
The frantic screams of a smoke alarm brought me running into a kitchen filled with toxic smoke. I used to melt my army men and action figures so I was well acquainted with the sickly-sweet smell of plastic burning. Sure enough, the toaster oven was belching out thick black smoke. Dinner was served.
I was really experienced with fire, so I moved with a fireman’s calm and swiftness; unplugged it, hauled it outside and opened all the windows the house had.
There it was. A little voice-changing toy megaphone, melted like butter into the grill of our now-retired toaster oven. I got my son to tell me about it and did the fatherly thing of explaining the dangers and blah blah blah. His huge, scared eyes said he’d received the message loud and clear. My words were just an obligatory ritual compared to the lesson of a shrieking alarm and doom-colored smoke and a toy that was now thoroughly “broked.”
He whispered “sowwy” with a quivering lip and I scrubbed his four-year-old head and smiled that everything was okay.
I guess most parents seem to get to a point where they say to their kids, “wait until you have kids of your own.” With a joyless, knowing smile. Because they do know. They’ve been through the cycle already, which is like a kind of generational karma, I guess. Your kids give you what you gave to your parents so that you can learn what an absolute frightening turd you were to raise.
I fully appreciate what an awful, rude, grubby, dangerous child I was. I was so bad in fact, what my kids dish out seems like chump change in comparison. Somehow I beat the karmic system. Man oh man, my poor parents, though. Wow. They should get a medal for not having sent me off to a boarding school or shipping me overseas in a crate marked: WARNING: EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS, DO NOT OPEN.