Don’t Play with Matches — Letter M

When you have kids, you spend a lot of time teaching them not to tattle. You hafta be careful with this, because you want to keep them safe, but you also do not want to hear their complaints all the livelong day. You want them to shut up and learn to work out their own conflicts.
Early on, you teach them, “If it’s not hurting anyone, you’re tattling.”

You also say things like, “Don’t play with matches,” and “Don’t put anything metal in the toaster,” but with less frequency than you say, “Stop tattling.”

Sometimes kids are conflicted though, so they come home and they say somethin like, “Um, no one is hurt yet, and I’m not sure this is tattling, buuuuuut, Ginny is playin with matches…and um, I think that…um…”
And you are out the door! Gone to hunt Ginny down! You’re gonna have a chat to Ginny about Smokey the Bear!


The twist comes when you reach nine-year-old Ginny, who tells you her mother said it was okay for her to play with matches.
On a military installation.
In the summer.
On grass as dry and brittle as my patience for other people’s children.
You are suspicious of Ginny, and you ask her, “Why would it be okay?”
Ginny’s mom said it was okay, because she was only playing with matches outside.
Gee, thanks Ginny’s Mom. So long as she doesn’t burn your house down, it’s fine. Never mind the rest of us, livin here in the middle of the PINE FOREST!

Now you hafta go talk to Ginny’s mom. This could go either way. Ginny’s probably lyin, and her mom will probably freak out, too. But you know, in the back of your head, that Ginny’s mom could be a real piece of work. She could end up yellin at you, tellin you it’s none of your business, and to mind your own kids.
Then you’ll hafta call the MP’s because it really is not okay for kids to play with matches, anywhere…and, and…
This is really more parenting than you planned to do today! And oh my God, it’s soooo hot outside! Why Ginny lives so far? Why I gotta live in Georgia?!?

As it turns out, Ginny’s mom is a freaker-outter, too. Aren’t you relieved?

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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17 Responses to Don’t Play with Matches — Letter M

  1. Dan Antion says:

    Oh, I hate those scenarios. I hate thinking about them. They make my head hurt. Just burn the base down Ginny. Small confession here – I played with matches. Outside, but in some places where it wasn’t a good idea to start a fire. Oh well. Caught, yelled at and eventually stopped.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ginny’s mom sounds like a bit of a problem.

    Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy


  3. Loved, loved, loved “On grass as dry and brittle as my patience for other people’s children.” That’s some good writing there, girl.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sherry says:

    I’m add this to the “reasons I never had kids.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luanne says:

    I love other freaker-outer moms. They making parenting so much easier LOL. I secretly despise kids who lie about what their parents told them. They are too brazen for my taste. And they are the ones who never say thank you. Maybe that’s a stupid pet peeve on my part.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Parenting is not easy, that’s for sure. Like you I don’t like tattling. Yet, sometimes, we’d like the kids to be straightforward. Playing with matches is a big deal, but dealing with other parents’ reaction is a big deal too. Glad for you that Ginny’s mom wasn’t a piece of work. Bring it on, letter N!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. shanjeniah says:

    We don’t call it tattling, but we also don’t punish. We talk things through – like a lot a lot a lot.

    My kids have used matches and lighters to light our wood stove, candles, and campfires. Rather than say, “Don’t play,” we talk about safety, noticing, thinking through, how to set a safe fire, and extinguish one fully, and what to do if there is a fire that gets out of control.

    I tend not to like those blanket “Don’t do this” or “Go on ahead and do it, but not inside” statements, because they don’t really impart knowledge or power, and they don’t promote kids learning how to judge situations to see if they’re safe.

    Kids want power, and they want to know how to do stuff. And they’re going to grow up, so I try to use those things to advantage. For instance, today, we spent almost an hour in the car, because my 13yo wanted to know how the operating systems worked, in preparation for a driving test 3 years away…

    But, yeah – I don’t want to have to go confront Ginny’s mom. Personally, I think I’d take a few minutes first, to explain to Ginny about dry brush, military installations, and the potential for tragedy and destruction of everything she and everyone else owns…because that’s information all kids should have.

    Beautifully written, and I can feel that Georgia heat pressing down on me…


  8. suzjones says:

    We took ours out to my SIL’s block and let them throw sticks on the fire and poke at it where it is in a nice contained fire pit. That always seemed to work for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nutmeg says:

    As someone who depends on trees and forests, this is more than disturbing. Hope Smoky’s message helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. April says:

    I live in Georgia, and after almost 10 years of acclimation, I finally like it here—well for most of the year.


    • Oy. We lived at Ft Stewart there, near the coast in the low country. I hated it. I might coulda been alright if I was nearer the northern border…like Stone Mountain, maybe.
      But I’m a northerner, and my body is especially northern!

      Liked by 1 person

      • April says:

        We live northwest of Atlanta. I don’t like anything south of the city except Savannah–which I guess would be east. I’m really a hippie tree hugger from the west coast. Kind of hard to fit in here, but I manage. What I don’t like is ‘hot rain’. Coming from the Seattle area, when it rains, it’s usually cold.

        Liked by 1 person

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