The evening was proceeding swimmingly.
I had maneuvered the boys in a swinging, waltz-like round from basketball pickup to the pharmacy to home where everyone ate dinner, played, and did their jobs without drama. For real. Things were going so well, I even made butterscotch cookies. On a weeknight. Just for kicks.
I felt this cool sense of competence, thinking of all I had accomplished with Dutch working late and four kids in tow. And then, as I was adding bleach to a batch of laundry, Henry yelled from the kitchen, “There’s a fire!”
Which was true, because Jack set fire to the house.
Sort of. When no one was watching, Jack held some paper towels over the lighted scented candle by the sink. He then dropped the fiery wad on the counter, where Henry found it.
I learned some things:
1. Candles are verboten here now.
2. I am not super great in an emergency. I was hyperventilating and waving my arms around, trying in vain to think what to do.
3. Henry is great in an emergency. He was cool as a cucumber, snatching the flaming mess, throwing it in the sink, and dousing it with water. He caught the hot embers that drifted above our heads and extinguished them too, all while speaking calmly about Jack and candles being a bad mix.
The kitchen smells like char, despite the open windows and spinning fans. It has lavender undertones because Henry was liberal with the Febreze.
“Sheesh!” said Henry.
“Jack, we do not set things on fire,” I said.
“Hot,” said Jack.
“I scared of fire!” cried Truman.
“Fire is not allowed in the kitchen,” said Charlie.
I threw out the candle.
All is well.