As time goes on, I remember less and less about the details, but I remember the general idea.
I remember that it was January. Probably 2007, which would have made Toliver 3 years old, and would have put Carter in kindergarten at Cormier School.
Toliver wasn’t feeling well at all, so I had to pick him up from daycare. Unfortunately, I still had a number of things to get done for work, so I was dividing my time between him and my work duties. He had a fever of 101, which is why I got called in the first place. I picked him up from daycare and brought him home to my duplex, and asked him what he wanted to do. He asked if he could do a puzzle, so I set him up with one right next to me. I could hear him humming as he worked on it. I only had a few more things to take care of, and then I could focus on my blue-eyed bundle of joy.
Suddenly, I realized it was quiet. Parents instinctively know that quiet is NOT good. “Where did he go?”, I thought to myself. He was right next to me only a minute ago.
So I got up to find out what he was doing. He wasn’t in his room, and he wasn’t in his playroom. Hrm. He has little legs, he couldn’t have gotten that far. My place was a two-story duplex with a basement, so I went downstairs to see where he was at.
As I descended the stairs, my eyes started to water. It was a very odd feeling, and I wasn’t sure why it was happening. Then my mind finally kicked in. Smoke. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot… smoke??
I turned the corner and walked into the kitchen. Smoke is pouring out of the microwave. There is a kitchen chair near the counter by the microwave… Toliver is sitting on the floor by the chair. “Daddy, I wanted popcorn. Is it ready?” he says. His eyes are watering due to the smoke. I’m not sure what to think, so I look at the timer.
It appears he set it for 55 minutes. There are 51 minutes left.
The poor little guy, with a fever, decided he wanted popcorn. Dad wasn’t moving fast enough to make him happy, so he made it himself. But he didn’t know what buttons to hit, so he set it to nuke for an hour or so.
What could go wrong?
I hit the Cancel button. Flames are exploding out of the back, but stop when I press the button. However, smoke keeps pouring out of the back. I open the microwave, and find a pile of nuclear waste in a convienent microwavable bag. It’s truly molten lava. The wall is charred, flames were shooting out of the microwave. It smells like dead bodies in the duplex. And not the good kind of dead bodies smell. The ‘OMG my son microwaved the shit out of the popcorn’ kind of smell.
I’m a good Dad, though. I dab the tears from his face, and then offer Toliver some cheese and crackers. This totally makes him forget about the fire hazard he created. As he’s eating his crackers, I start trying to clean things up. OMG! It’s alive! Kill it! The bag of popcorn is moving. Toliver, age 3, has created a new life form. I choose to beat it into submission rather than learning what it wants. I enter into a life an death struggle, as my son happily eats his crackers only three feet from where I choose to make my last stand. Custer, eat your heart out.
Fast forward 20 minutes.
It’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I have the windows and sliding door in the kitchen WIDE open. Toliver and I are wearing coats, because it’s still bloody January. He asks me “Daddy? Why is it cold in here?” as I move the expensive microwave out to the curb to be picked up with the trash. After that, I scrub the wall. Have you ever scrubbed char marks off of a wall? Hint… not a easy as you’d think. Especially with a 3 1/2 year old in your arms. I throw the microwave out on the curb and PRAY that Ashwaubenon will take it without a permit.
We go to pick Carter up from daycare. The little snot is on to me. “Daddy, why is it burning in here?” my little Sherlock asks. Trying to take the brunt of it, I say: “Dad had a cooking accident.”
Toliver, oblivious to the whole thing, says “I tried to make popcorn and started a fire and Dad saved me and then gave me crackes. Can we play cars Carter?” Carter falls for it, and they’re off playing cars. As I continue to scrub the wall, while making my boys dinner. Without the char marks.
Toliver’s such a good kid, and his blue eyes will look into your soul. He might have almost burned my house down. But I love him with everything I have.