Friday, May 20, 2011

Maybe Jail is a Possibility for Abby

It took Abby a few months after Caleb tried to set the house on fire, but she was able to set her place in Wallaces' Funniest Stories as well. Monica has started substitute teaching which takes her out of the home sometimes while Abby is still in half-day kindergarten. We've tried to coordinate the days Mon teaches with days that I'm not working, but there are days when I get home at 8 AM, get the kids off to school, go to bed an hour later at 9, then I have to wake up in 3 hours at 12 noon to get Abby off the bus (it's school district policy that they won't let kindergartners off the bus unless a parent is present), get her some lunch and then she plays around house alone while I get some more sleep. Abby has an amazing imagination and can entertain herself very well, so it's worked out quite well.
Except on one cool day in April, we had this same scenario and as I went back to sleep around 1:00, I heard the answering machine pick up, and again, and again, and a 4th time. Both kids know not to answer the phone unless it reads 'Wallace' or 'Foster' on the caller ID, so it was no surprise that Abby didn't answer the phone, but I wondered who kept calling. I got up and looked at the phone which read a Spokane number. I called back the number, but it was a disconnected number. Seemed a little strange, but after asking Abby if everything was OK, I went back to bed. A few minutes later, the door bell rang. The door bell ringing is a strange sound at our home considering our location, we very rarely get unexpected visitors living out of town. I listened closely in bed to the see if Abby was answering the door, and started to again get out of bed. In my half-asleep state, I not only heard Abby open the door, but also a man's voice and him entering the house! I quickly jumped up and ran to the entry way to find a county sheriff standing with Abby. Realizing I was standing in my nothing but my underwear, I asked if everything was OK. The sheriff told me that he was responding to a 911 hang-up call. I was stunned and looked over at Abby who had her chin buried in her chest. I asked Abby if she had called 911 and she could barely move. As the cobwebs started to clear in my mind, I started to see the situation from the officer's perspective of a 911 call by a little girl with a man walking around in his underwear at 1:00 in the afternoon. After excusing myself to put on some pants, I came into the entry way with the officer asking Abby if everything was OK and if there was anything she needed to tell him. I understood his concern and tried to explain to him that I had worked the night shift and that she had just gotten home from school, but I'm not really sure he believed me. He left and Abby and I had a little chat about 911 calls, that they are for real.
(This blog story has neither a pic of the sheriff or of me in my underwear)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maybe Jail is a Possibility for Caleb

When I named this blog 'Keeping Toddlers out of Jail', I did it with a little jest and the idea that I've set the bar low for my parenting skills. Turns out, I may have been more accurate than I had hoped. Both Caleb, 8, and Abby, 6, have given us reasons to be concerned.
Last fall, I took a trip to San Francisco with some buddies to see Gonzaga's basketball team play. It's a trip that we've made for a couple years and it's always a blast. While gone, Monica and I text each other frequently. We're texting addicts and we love to keep each other informed as well as send fun messages.
On one evening in San Fran I got a phone call from Mon, which is slightly unusual since we text so much. When I answered she started screaming to me how Caleb had lit the living room on fire. My first question was whether the room was still on fire? She said she had put in out with the fire extinguisher, but that the house was full of smoke. She finally calmed down enough to let me know what had happened.
While Monica was upstairs taking a shower, Caleb decided to make a fire. We heat our home mostly with a wood stove and Caleb has built fires before in the stove, but under parental supervision. During the colder months, we have a fire going all day and all night. Caleb has been taught the rules of a safety around fires, both in the house and at camp fires. But he decided to take our cardboard box full of paper trash, (junk mail, paper trash, old homework, etc) that we use to start the fires, place it on the brick hearth and see if it would burn. And burn it did! We're told that the flame reached up near our eight-foot ceiling. Abby and Caleb made a few attempts at putting out the fire with some cups of water before Abby ran upstairs and started yelling at Monica that there was a fire in the living room.
It's easy to understand that Monica did not take the screaming very serious at first since A) Abby has a flare for the dramatic, B) There is always a fire in the living room and C) Couldn't this wait until after the shower? Mon did get out of the shower and went downstairs in her towel to see the entire paper-box engulfed in flames. Mon made a quick, smart decision and grabbed the fire extinguisher which sits next to the fireplace and sprayed out the fire.
With the average heart rate of 220 between the kids and Monica, she knew that everyone was safe but that the house was completely full of smoke and that our son would be sorely missed while attending military school. (But not as sore as his backside would be had I been home). Several days later the scent of smoke was all gone. The biggest mess turned out to be the detergent that the fire extinguisher expelled all over the hearth.
Caleb was traumatized and threatened to run away for a few days, but rest assured, he won't be playing with fire anytime soon.

You can see the little cup that the kids used in their first attempt at putting out the fire

This the box sitting on the back deck waiting for me when I got home from San Francisco.