When I was around ten or eleven, we moved into a three bedroom red brick home off the highway in Corinth, Texas. The home doesn't exist anymore, long ago being torn down and a Jack in the Box built in its place.
The summer following our move into this roach infested rental my siblings and I found ourselves bored out of our minds. It was an unsaid rule in our family that you never complained about being bored or else you'd find yourself scrubbing the baseboards with a soapy washrag. Our mother worked during the daytime and since it was only us kids at home, being bored did not usually bring out the best in us.
For instance, my brother and sister were in charge of mowing the lawn. This particular summer was hot and dry and because of that the grass hadn't been mowed until it was very tall. We had one of those side attachments on our mower that shot grass clippings in neat parallel rows. After we finished mowing, it was then all the kids' duty to rake the grass clippings and then bag them up to be picked up with the trash. Well, we didn't feel like working in the heat, so instead we let the sun bake the grass clippings til they were dry through and through.
This was a bad thing--for one day a careless driver flicked a cigarette out their car window which then caught our front lawn on fire. I have never seen anything go up in flames so fast or seen my sister more panicked in my life. I don't think the fire department was too happy with us.
Of course some kids never learn their lesson.
Just a few short weeks later, my twin brother discovered the art of homemade blow torches. I guess that somehow he had forgotten about the firemen scolding us for catching the front yard of fire. My brother was always tinkering with electronics, and I am not sure where he learned it from, but had somehow found out that when you spray a can of hairspray with a lit match in front of it that a blast of fire forms. My brother thought it was pretty cool.
Mother did not and I don't blame her.
My brother got into trouble for making this blow torch, but that did not stop him. One day, he hid under his bed and showed the neighbor kid how to make a blow torch. I have to admit that watching the flames was pretty cool, but this particular episode got my brother into the proverbial hot seat. That summer, my mother in an effort to teach my twin brother to not play with matches made him wear a cardboard sign on the side of the highway and in front of our house that said:
"Do not let your kids play with me--I will catch them on fire."
I think the next time I remember this brother playing with fire was about four years later when we lived with my father in Oklahoma and he thought it'd be cool to shoot bottle rockets off in the house. I think he did it out of boredom.
Which brings me to my kids. Remember how I threw their toys away (aka hid them in the garage)? Well, this new found boredom has struck a curiosity chord in my boys. First, it was my youngest who found a new, unused weed-eater gas line in the junk drawer and decided to use it as a straw to suck pickle juice out of a jar early one morning. That incident really wasn't too bad. What was crappy was when my oldest decided to hide in the bathroom with his youngest brother after they found one of my lighters and then lit several sheets of paper on fire in a midst of laughter. For a minute I thought Beavis and Butthead were locked in the bathroom whispering, "Fire, fire. He he. Fire."
Perhaps taking away their toys wasn't such a good idea after all?