Once Upon a Time Two Little Boys Played with Matches.

One of our sons had a little neighbor boy he played with (Well, really they all did.)  but anyway,  they were two peas in a pod if ever there were two peas in a pod!  As time went by, they got braver and braver and were no longer underfoot as much as they had been.  They might have been 5-6 years old maybe.  They were allowed to go outside and play in both yards.  They were neighbors and there was no fence.  Both of us Mom's were home, and between us, we sure thought we had been able to keep a good eye on them.

Then one day came and things were unusually quiet.  The boys were unusually scarce, but I could still hear them?   Quiet whispers and giggles,  muffled words,  what on earth were they up to?  I went around the house quiet as a mouse and peered out the windows in the areas I thought the sounds to be coming from.....and there they were.  Sitting behind the shrubs to the front corner of the house playing in the landscape rocks.  Well, that is not so bad.

Well not so fast?  I don't see any trucks or cars.  What is it they are doing?  This bears further investigation.  So, I slipped quietly as I could out the front door and around to the south corner of the house.  OH MY GOSH!  THEY ARE PLAYING WITH MATCHES!! They are going to burn the house down!  Good grief!  "I taught you better than this!  Don't you remember the time the candle got knocked over into the magazine rack and the papers caught fire?  I had to run into the bathroom and bail water to put it out?? Good Grief child!  WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?"

Needless to say the little friend tore out of here like a bat,, as I was your normal raving mad Mom.  Our son was marched into the house and to his room, with me preaching all of the way.

I called the friend's Mother and she was as shocked and taken back as I was.  We decided to punish them both and hoped that would be the end of it.

But NO........the next day my phone rings and she had caught them at the very same thing.  This pattern repeated itself for a good couple of weeks.  We preached, we punished, we sent them to their rooms, we paddled them,  we turned them over to their Dad's,  we took things away,  we grounded them.  As soon as the punishment ended they were at it again and one of us was calling the other.

It was not that they didn't normally mind, they did.  They were not normally defiant children either.  They were fascinated.  Spellbound by matches and fire.  Plus the fact it was a two man operation strengthened the hold it had over them.

What can we do?  Nothing is getting through to him and we are quickly running out of options.  What's more it is my belief that if we don't solve this somebody is going to get hurt.  Plus, if I let this little boy get away with this I lose all credibility as a parent.  He may never listen or mind again because he will have won the war of wills.

Not to be out witted by a 5 year old I hatched a plan.  It came to me as I emptied ash trays.  YES, YES,  this was back in the "old days" when nearly everyone smoked and had ash trays in their homes for their guests and thought absolutely nothing of it,  maybe 1978 or '79.

I had this gigantic ash tray.  Nearly as big as a mixing bowl.  Someone who worked for my Dad had made it and given it to us as a gift.  Honestly, it was large enough to have held a half peck of apples. (That is a 5 pound bag.)  I was inspired.

Off I headed to the local grocery store to buy matches.  AND DID I BUY MATCHES!  Boxes and boxes of all manner of matches.  Kitchen matches, book matches, boxed matches, about a half of a brown grocery bag of matches.  I am sure the cashier thought I was nuts.  But oh well, a Mom's got to do what a Mom's got to do.

Not a word was spoken on the subject until after dinner.  Then as the family headed downstairs to watch TV I called them back and made the announcement.  Brother would not be joining the family for TV as I was sure he would much rather play with matches.  I introduced the gigantic ash tray and the grocery sack of all of those matches to my little son as his eyes grew big.

We sat and he lit matches, one after another for what seemed like an eternity and then he lit some more.  By the time the clock said it was bed time he was wishing he had never seen a match I can assure you!  He never ever played with matches or fire again.  In fact he was pretty near a perfect kid after that except for maybe a time or two that I can hardly remember!!

The moral of this true story is that sometimes the answer is right under your nose.  Certainly you must never give up, but keep trying to be a good parent.  The best thing I have found to do is to love your children and pray about and for them.  When I don't know the answer I pray for the Lord to show me the way and I am inspired.  I become quiet and He shows me the way.   God Bless you and your children.


Linda said...

Oh my goodness, that is so funny. Sounds like something my grandmother would have done. It worked and that's what counts.

P.j. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P.j. said...

Oh my, HOW did I miss this post?? Even though it was tooooo funny, I suspect he inherited the tendency for mischief from his pop. Some of the tales Paul & Mary Lou told are classics, too! But your solution, my dear, was pure genius! You're also right that an adult--parent, teacher, daycare provider, youth leader--can't afford to lose a war of wills. Once ceded, the territory is lost forever, & they'll never stop the attack! ;-)