A highlight of the third-grade curriculum at Molly’s school is the “Fire and Life Safety” course taught by firefighters from our local fire department.
For five weeks beginning in September, three firefighters come once a week and teach the kids everything from how to put out a grease fire and the top causes of fire in our city, to how to draw up a home-escape plan and the importance of the words “stop, drop and roll.”
Molly is fascinated by fire trucks and machinery of any sort. She thinks ahead and has a contingency plan for everything. In other words, this program was right up her alley.
At the end of the course, the students with the highest grades on their very comprehensive homework assignments are named junior fire chiefs and receive all sorts of special awards. Molly was ever so proud to be one of two students in her class to achieve this designation.
Since then, her fire-safety training has come in handy a time or two, like when I poured some oil in a hot skillet and needed help remembering that putting the lid on and removing the pan from the stove would squelch the flames that sprang up so suddenly. (They clearly did not have an extensive fire-safety program in the schools when I was in third grade.)
I knew she enjoyed interacting with the firefighters, but I never really realized how thorough Molly’s training was or how much it had influenced her until a few weeks ago.
The girls and I were at my parents’ home one evening when my dad fell, hit his head on a wall and eventually became unresponsive. We called 911, and someone made sure Lilly, Molly and their visiting cousins were occupied elsewhere as we waited for help to arrive.
Lilly saw my dad fall and was, understandably, very upset. She holed herself up in the bathroom, where Randy calmed her down over the phone.
When I went to find Molly, she was in an upstairs bedroom, talking quietly with her 12-year-old cousin. She had seen the accident, too, but didn’t appear to be the slightest bit upset or scared. Some of this is due to her personality—she trends toward calm and non-dramatic most of the time. As I discovered later, however, her response went deeper than that.
After the paramedics had been there for awhile and things were looking better all around, my younger sister went back upstairs to see how our daughters were doing. Molly’s assessment was both simple and telling.
“I know what they are doing,” she said.
“I know why they are doing it.
“I am a junior fire chief.”
Well, OK then.
Seriously, what else is there to say?
As I reflect on that day, I am thankful for many things. I’m thankful that my dad is OK. I’m thankful that my sister was in town visiting that weekend, which was why we were even at my parents’ home that night. I’m thankful for my older sister, whose steady demeanor helped us do what we needed to do for my dad. I’m thankful that Randy was able to console Lilly over the phone, and that the paramedics who came to assist us were all very kind and competent.
I’m also thankful for that trio of firefighters who visited Molly’s classroom so faithfully last year, filling her then 8-year-old head with the grown-up knowledge that gave her comfort and confidence during a potentially scary situation.
There were times, that evening, when I wasn’t sure how everything was going to turn out. But in the midst of it all, when I was trying hard not to panic, my little junior fire chief was at peace.
A mom can’t ask for much more than that.