Early in 2002 we were having what you might call a stressful time. Trust me, I won't go into all the details, but they included tearing the ancient kitchen apart to install a dishwasher (in our first house), Kerry having shingles, and then losing his job and trying to work out of our living room. All with three boys, (5, 3, and 6 months) underfoot for a fun diversion (!) in a smallish house.
The boys were about this age...
(unrelated vacation photo).
Kerry went out of town for the weekend and Grampa Grasshopper came over to help out with some kind of electrical project. The boys were engrossed in a documentary from the library, (either about the Challenger disaster or maybe about explosions, I don't remember), and I was trying to cook a pizza.
And it was taking forever.
When I finally realized that the electric oven wasn't working properly.
In fact, it was on fire.
Or something like it. The heating element was burning like a sparkler on the 4th of July. So I very calmly turned the oven off.
To no effect. The sparkler kept burning.
See, we lived in an 80-year-old house with - as Kerry said - "most of it's charm in non-stylistic areas." Meaning, we had one tiny bathroom, doors were hung upside down, you had to duck your head on the stairs, and dropped marbles would roll rapidly to one side or the other of most rooms. And the wiring? The stuff of nightmares. So Kerry had impressed on the boys that if there was ever a fire, just GET OUT.
So we had a fire. Contained. In the oven. I hoped. But I couldn't stop it.
I sent the boys running for Grampa because I - being perfectly logical - had to keep an eye on the fire to make sure it didn't spread. You know, because if I went down to the cellar to the fuse box and stopped watching the fire - which wasn't really a fire - who knew what would happen? And if it wasn't actually a fire, and I sprayed the fire extinguisher into the oven, I'd ruin a perfectly-good-yet-still-uncooked Hawaiian pizza!
Grampa to the rescue. Cutting the power to the oven immediately stopped the fireworks, which were caused by the heating element burning out.
And then I realized.
The boys were GONE.
Oh, they'd made a daring escape from certain doom. I found them out in the driveway, in the dark night, as far away as possible, convinced that the house was about to explode and strategizing about where we were going to live. After the house blew up.
It took a long time to talk them (Wyatt especially) back into the house. That event made quite an impression on Wyatt. So much so that two years later, at school, he produced this.
I think all the swirly dotted lines are supposed to be our escape routes. (Either that or we're all flying paper airplanes, but I'm going with the escape routes.) And I love how he accurately reproduced the sparkler effect in the oven. He even remembered which side of the element was burning.
I'll say this, he has a memory for detail.