There is such a fine line when teaching children about dangerous things. If you don’t tell them enough then they aren’t prepared and can be at-risk. But if you tell them too much then you can overload them and scare them.
Such was the case with my son tonight.
It’s been fire prevention week at school. Great! Kids need to learn all the safety precautions and be well prepared should there be a fire or emergency in the home. I didn’t realize how much all of this was weighing on his mind until tonight.
He recently purchased a fish tank and my hubby and I stocked it with fish for him. The tank sits on his dresser in his room. He adores his fish and loves being the one responsible for feeding them. Usually he feeds them before he gets ready for bed so that by the time he’s ready for lights out so are the fish. Tonight they didn’t get fed until he was in bed so I left the tank light on for a bit. I figured I’d turn it off after my bedtime check-in. All that to say, tonight was his first night going to sleep with the tank light on.
I was on the phone when he came running into the room crying that he saw smoke in his room. He quickly escalated from crying to full on panic. We stood in his doorway as he pointed to a picture on the wall and said “It’s coming from behind there.” – right below the picture is an outlet with all of the fishtank gear plugged into it. My first thought was that the outlet was overloaded and smoking or possibly on fire. But after glancing up the wall I didn’t see anything. Then my son said that you can only see it with the overhead light off. It only took a second for me to realize that what he thought was smoke was light reflecting off of the water in his fishtank. It was dancing up the wall – much like smoke. In fact, it really did look a lot like smoke. Especially to a 7 year old boy who’s just had a week of “FIRE – FIRE – FIRE” at school.
It breaks my heart to think of how his adrenaline must have been racing as he tried to figure out what to do…. what it could be…. how to get out of his room…. I am so proud that the training kicked in…. he got out of his room ASAP and didn’t try to hide or stay immobilized by fear. He’s sleeping on the couch tonight. In the morning light his room won’t be so scary. At least I hope so.