I used to* light things on fire when I was younger. The best fires were typically made without my parents’ knowledge or consent (bless their hearts). I blame lack of color TV or video games for leading me down this path.
In kindergarten, I was in a sort of secret club with the girl down the street from us. We were constantly trying to one-up our previous creative pursuits, each activity slightly more dangerous than the one before. It started with intentionally slathering our hands with glue, waiting for it to dry, and seeing who could peel the largest pieces off. (Side note: Yep, no TV.) Later, we graduated to stuff like making our own bows and arrows, drawing treasure maps and digging just about anywhere without calling JULIE (neighbor’s lawn, alleys, and next to those green metal humming boxes with the lightning bolts and CAUTION signs), and finally – making fire.
My parents had a nice variety of matches on the fireplace mantle. Enough that they wouldn’t miss a pack or ten. So, I provided the matches, and she provided the location. We decided it would be best to light these fires in the woods (The Olympic National Forest, to be precise), out of view of the grown-ups. I know – smart, right? Totally fool proof. We found a hollowed out log that stayed fairly dry inside – perfect for storing our stash of matches. We started with piles of leaves and dry pine needles, and gradually worked our way up to small camp fires. When we were done for the day, we’d simply stomp out anything hot or red, hide the matches, and head home. This would have kept us occupied for MONTHS, had it not been for HIM.
Just days after we’d started to get the hang of incendiary tactics, our doorbell rang. It’s another kid that I didn’t recognize. He’s holding some of OUR matches! “I was playing with these matches in the woods, and my mom found out, and now I’m s’posed to ask you if they’re yours.” CRAP! Game over.
The next day, the whole family drives down the the local fire station where we meet the chief. He talks to us about how dangerous fire is, shows us some pictures of burned-down houses and firemen who’d died in the line of duty. I was in kindergarten. I couldn’t really comprehend all of that, but it did make an impact. We got to check out the fire trucks, ring “the bell,” and my brother and I were each given fire hats to take home with us. A pretty cool day, actually. Not punishy at all! Rad!
So, I stayed away from matches for a good 2-3 weeks, and temporarily moved on to playing with the knife that my dad kept on his dresser. That didn’t last long, as I soon cut my finger, got mad, threw the knife into the horse pasture next door, and left it there. I knew that the horses would trample me the moment I climbed the fence, so I made plans to return to fire . . .
*Have not made any fire so far today