Fire

A recent news story about the third graders who plotted to kill their teacher got a lot of people talking. Talking specifically about discipline and how it should be administered.

If you’re not new to my spot you know where I stand on the issue. However, this post isn’t about corporal punishment. It is about one of my brief walks on the dark side and the resulting consequences and repercussions.

matches2.jpgDid I ever tell how I set my mother’s hair on fire when I was about 7 or 8 years old? I was about the same age as those third graders. Mom was sporting her Angela Davis Afro fresh from the barber shop, “The Head Hunters“. It was the middle of the afternoon and I was bored sitting on a Charles Chips can next to mom’s bed as she was napping.

Hmmm, well lookie there…matches on the nightstand.

Ssscratch…lit one. Ooooh the fire…lookie the pretty blue and orange flame. Wwwoo….blew it out. The smoke floats in the air like a soft quiet cloud.

Lets do that again!!!

Ssscrath…lit another one. Wwwoo…blew it out. That’s sooo cool!

Mama shifts in her sleep and turns her back towards me. The AfroSheen glisten of momma’s afro catches my eye. I look at the match. I look at the afro. Match. Afro.

Ssscratch…lit the third one. It starts like a teardrop rolling upwards from the middle of her afro slowly creeping up her head. I quickly realize this was not going to end well. Letting out a small yelp, I put out the fire with a single swat of my hand. Momma sprang up out of sleep and said “Chocl8t. What are you doing?” “Nothing” I said wide-eyed and nervously shifting my bottom on the can.

*Sniff-Sniff* “Is that hair I smell burning?” she asks. Feeling the back of her hair with her right hand momma asks “Child, did you burn my hair?”. “No ma’am” I said with my eyes big as half dollar coins. “Yes you did! You set my hair on fire!” she yells as she edges off the bed making her way to the bathroom with a hand mirror. My protest to the contrary falls on deaf ears as she reviews the evidence of singed hair in the mirror.

Are you trying to kill me?” she asked.

Crying now, I said “Noooo momma, nooo!”.

Yes, you are! Do you realize my whole head could have gone up in flames?! The bed could have caught fire! The curtains! The whole dayum house could have burned down!” she said while glaring at me with a look of horror. “Get my dayum belt!”

Honestly, she didn’t have to whoop me because what cut to my core was her assertion that I was trying to kill her…that I could have killed her. I don’t remember the whooping but those words have remained with me and how I felt the moment she said them.

Nah, she didn’t have to whoop me but it was probably a good thing she did.