Fear of Candles

This post by Jennifer Flaten

At supper the other night the conversation turned to fire safety-don’t ask me why or how, it just did. Specifically, the girls vividly remember touring the fire department during their elementary schools fire safety week.

Now, this tour took place when they were in 2nd grade, they are now in 7th so this is one powerful memory.  Usually, the girls are opposites…most often if one likes something the other kid thinks it was just “meh”, but not this tour. No. Both girls shuddered remembering it.

According to my girls, the visit went fine at first. They saw the fire station, viewed the equipment and then it was time for the safety house. In the safety house demonstration, the firefighters show examples of household items burned in a fire. For some reason seeing the melted cups, scorched light fixtures and burned out microwave really terrified my youngest daughter.
So much so that after that tour, on evenings when I lit candles, she would go around blowing them out. Now for all these years, I thought she was blowing the candles out to be FUNNY.

She would even sneak out of her room, creep into the kitchen and blow out the candles. I used to call her “lips” as in “I see lips was at work in the kitchen again” when I discovered all the candles blown out.

Yet, the day I picked them up from school after the tour, they both told me the tour was “fine”.

I never equated the sudden desire to see the candles unlit stemmed from her trip to the fire station. Never once when I was teasing her about blowing out the candles to be funny did she share her fear.

I had no idea that she was blowing them out because she was afraid the house would start on fire. Eventually, she got over that fear and even lights candles herself. I am not happy she was so frightened and didn’t share it with me, but I am glad that the program is effective.

It makes an amusing anecdote, but it is also a reminder that sometimes we make assumptions about people’s motivation. I thought she was doing it to be impish. Would it have made a difference if I asked, “why do you keep blowing the candles out” instead of assuming her reasons? I don’t know kids don’t always want to admit strong emotions like fear to their parents.

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