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Educate ’em, but don’t scare ’em!

December 22, 2007

Ian has bunk beds. His little brother inherited a loft bed from their cousin before she and her mom moved back to California in August, and Ian has coveted bunk beds ever since. So, about a month or so later, we got him his bunk beds. He was tickled.

Apparently a week or two ago, Ian’s class did a unit on fire safety. As part of that unit, they went on a field trip to the main fire station downtown, learned the difference between a “fire truck” and a “fire engine” (apparently there is a difference-who knew?!), things like that. No word on whether they got to slide down the pole or not. I’m 40 years old and I’ve still never been to a fire station. Luckyyyyyyyy!

Ian was apparently quite captivated by the trip. He’s already drawn up the floor plan of our house, complete with escape routes, and has discussed the need for us to perform bi-annual fire drills. He obviously paid a lot of attention to what the firemen had to say, especially during the whole “smoke rises” thing. Only problem is, now he seems to be petrified to sleep in the top bunk- where he usually sleeps- because he’s convinced that if there is ever a fire in the house, the smoke that the firemen said rises to the ceiling will overcome him and he’ll die.

Now I’m not one of those testosterone-overloaded dads that think if their kids (especially little boys) are afraid of something, they’re pussies and will grow up to be same, but I also don’t want him living in constant fear, especially of something that, while it can happen, has such a miniscule chance of actually happening. So I had a talk with him.

I talked to him about the security system we have, and how it is hard-wired to the house and connects directly to the fire department, and how it is so sensitive that the alarm will go off long before the smoke has a chance to get severe enough to be concerned about smoke inhalation. Almost as if on cue, that same alarm illustrated that very point for me. Dawn was cooking dinner and incidentally set off the smoke alarm. (No comments from any Peanut Galleries out there- she’s a great cook.) Thing was, there wasn’t a bit of smoke in the house when it happened. I could smell the odor of something overcooking (dinner was not burned in the least- the burgers were quite yummy, as a matter of fact), and it was almost as if the alarm “smelled” it as well.

It appeared as though that wasn’t doing the trick, so I finally told him that whenever he decided he is “ready” to attempt sleeping on the top bunk again (best case scenario, that will occur while he’s home for Christmas break), that either his mom or I would sleep in the top bunk while he slept in the bottom bunk, to show that there is no reason to be concerned. Then maybe that may convince him that he’ll be okay.

If he never outgrows this little insecurity, then I guess we wasted a bunch of money on the bunk beds. But as mentioned above, I’m not going to condemn him to forever being a sissy because of it. Like I have room to talk- I have very serious issues with snakes. That was something else I talked to him about- I took a big step in my own unsissification process earlier this summer by getting enough testicular fortitude up to actually pet a banded California king snake. I know– I’m shocked too. The point being, even if it takes a while, you can eventually confront your fears, phobias, insecurities, or neuroses (however they may be classified) and maybe even conquer them. I can’t say my snakes issue has been “conquered” by any stretch of the imagination, but touching that little slithery bastard was HUGE for me. My next step will eventually have to be holding one and/or allowing it to actually crawl on me, but one thing at a time. Let’s not get ridiculous.

Anyway, I do still hope he does eventually get over this thing about smoke inhalation. I just don’t want him living in constant fear. I want him to be aware that it can happen, just as I want him to be aware of things like “stranger danger”, the fact that there are people in the world that choose to molest, snatch, poison, or otherwise harm kids (yeah, I guess that IS more or less the definition of “stranger danger”… shut up), the fact that even “cute and cuddly” animals can at least theoretically hurt you, the fact that you can very seriously bust your ass or worse doing stupid shit like bungee jumping, anything with the word “extreme” in it, and other psycho adrenaline-junkie activities, things like that, but I also don’t want him to grow up being completely afraid of people, animals, recreational activities, or whatever.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. SpringfieldZebra permalink
    December 22, 2007 3:29 pm


    Congratulations (I guess) on becoming a SAHD, homemaker, “Mr. Mom,” or whatever term you want to put on your new job.

    I’m sure Little Master will soon over-come his fears. Suggestion: Light a match, then put it up just below the smoke alarm to demonstrate what a miniscule amount of smoke it takes to set off the alarm. Then explain to him that the tiny amount of smoke generated by the match is like a spit in the ocean when it comes to the amount of smoke that would be produced from a fire. Then tell him that the alarm will warn him long before there is enough smoke to be a problem whether he is in the top bunk or the bottom.

    Just a thought.

    P.S.: I just took a look at your visitor log (IP2MAP). Are you aware that someone from Iran has looked at this site?

  2. Johann permalink
    December 23, 2007 8:00 am

    Yeah, I’m HUGE in Iran, apparently. And occasionally Lithuania, Mexico, and some Micronesian countries as well.

    Thanks for the suggestion- maybe I’ll try that.

  3. Johann permalink
    December 23, 2007 8:47 am

    Oh- and feel free to call me “John” here. Or “Johann” is fine too. Being called “Master” seems… I dunno… creepy.

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