Category Archives: shoes

The Fire Drill

Snags has a mortal fear of fire drills.  It all started when he was in daycare, somewhere between the ages of two and two and a half, when another child pulled the fire alarm.  I imagine the sudden loud noise of the clanging alarm frightened him the first time he heard it.  When we picked him up from daycare the afternoon this all happened, Snags said, “A baby pulled the fire alarm!”

That of course, seemed impossible.  I mean, how could it be?  A baby?  Pulled the fire alarm?  Babies aren’t tall, they can’t reach the average fire alarm, can they?  But we quickly learned that Snags was right.  It turned out that Megan, a little girl at the school, was in her teacher’s arms as the teacher stood in the hallway near a fire alarm.  Megan, curious babe she was, reached out to the shiny red fire alarm handle and gave it a yank, thus setting off the blaring tones of the alarm, and requiring the entire population of the daycare center to evacuate the building. 

Three, almost four years later and Snags has never forgotten this.  He has also never forgiven Megan this one transgression for the fear it instilled inside him.  And over the years this fear… snowballed, more or less.

The preschool that Snags attended insisted that children keep their shoes on during the day, and the teachers imparted the logic that “You need to keep your shoes on in case there is a fire drill!” to the children to teach them this.  I assume they said this because if there was a fire, or even just a drill, that they’d waste precious time putting shoes on 10 or 20 children that had been running around without shoes.  Evacuating the building without shoes could be a danger.  We wouldn’t want these barefoot raggamuffins to cut their foot on a pebble in the parking lot, right?

And yet somehow, in all of that “keep your shoes on” harping, Snags got it twisted in his head that taking shoes off CAUSED the fire alarm to sound.  Shoes on and all was golden.  The days were quiet and calm.  Shoes off and all would be chaos and the screeching alarm would pierce eardrums and turn children into stone.  Or at least that’s how I imagine Snags had made the connection of in his mind.  Because once, we were at the mall and Snags saw people trying on shoes.  He was half way to the exit door before I caught up with him.  “Let’s go!  Now!”  He cried.  “The fire alarm’s going to go off!”  I couldn’t convince him otherwise.  Nothing I said quelled his fears.   He started to cry and shake in fear and as the tears began to roll down his face like a sheet of water over Niagra Falls, I conceded that it might indeed be best if we cut our shopping trip short and left the mall as quickly as we could. 

When Snags was three a new student started at his school, and was placed in Snag’s classroom.  The child had some discipline problems in that he did exactly everything he was told not to do.  Also, he was fond of taking off all his clothes any time he felt like it, which seemed to be approximately every five minutes, or three seconds after the teachers had dragged him out from under the craft table and got him dressed again.  And of course, as part of all of this, he took his shoes off.

The teachers admitted that this new child was a challenge, and that he was a disruption to the class and that he upset ALL the other children.  EVERY. DAY.  It seemed there was nothing they could do about this except wrestle the naked problem child to the ground and forcefully put his clothes back on him. Snags began to dislike school.  He’d cry in the mornings that he didn’t want to go to school.  It wasn’t fun.  Jeremy wouldn’t keep his clothes on… Then one day, Snags’ teacher came to me and DEMANDED that I had to do something about Snags, because every time Jeremy took his shoes off, Snags started to panic and cry because he thought the fire alarm was going to go off, and his crying set the other children crying one by one, until the entire class was a roomful of wiggling, writhing, crying children that no amount of anything could calm.

I didn’t know what I could do.  Really, it seemed to me, the teacher should be doing something about Jeremy the problem child who couldn’t or wouldn’t keep his clothes or his shoes on.  I shouldn’t have to do anything about Snags for being scared.  Besides, I’d already spoken to Snags about this.  Ad nauseum.  I’d explained that shoes, on or off, were not the switch that controlled the fire alarms.  In fact, I’d told him there was no connection there at all.  But he insisted it was true.  After all, the teachers told them this every day.  Keep your shoes on in case there’s a fire drill.  Only Snags heard “Keep your shoes on or there WILL BE a fire drill.” 

Eventually, the problem child was removed from the school.  This wasn’t my doing.  One morning we just arrived to find that he wasn’t there, and then he wasn’t there the next day, or the day after that….  And then we learned that the school had asked the family to take the child elsewhere, he was simply too great a disruption, too great a discipline problem, and they couldn’t handle him, shoes or not.

That would seem to be the end of the story except Snags focused his energies on Megan, the child who had pulled the fire alarm that very first time. When she was a baby.  She’d been moved up to his classroom, and sometimes at nap time the teachers would set up her cot on the floor directly underneath the fire alarm.  Snags monitored this like you’d watch a poisonous snake circling around you.  He asked the teachers to move Megan’s cot.  “She might pull the fire alarm again,” he warned them.

Over time we got to the point where every morning Snags would demand that I ask the director of the preschool center “Is there going to be a fire drill today?”  And every morning she’d say “No.  No fire drill today.”  This got tiring very fast.  I was sick of asking the question and I know the director was tired of answering it.  But if we didn’t dance the dance, Snags would be paralyzed with fear, right there in the middle of the hallway, unable to move unless he was promised there wouldn’t be a fire drill frightening him on THAT day.

So, after a few months of this, I got the bright idea to tell Snags that the computer where I signed him in in the mornings had a sentence there each day telling me if there was going to be a fire drill or not.  So I’d log him in and say, “No fire drill today!” and he’d audibly breath a sigh of relief and relax a little.  Sometimes he would even start to skip down the hallway. 

The director of course, knew about Snags’ fear of fire drills.  It had been born and bred in her center, after all.  I’d asked her every day for months if there was going to be a fire drill.  So eventually, when there WAS going to be a fire drill, she’d warn me ahead of time.  “We’re having a fire drill tomorrow morning,” she’d say to me as I passed by her office on the way back to my car after depositing Snags safely in his classroom.  “I’ll try to do it early, before you arrive.”  And for the most part, this worked.  I think we went almost 1 ½ years without Snags having to partake in a fire drill of any sort.

But then Kindergarten was upon us.  The first day was a shortened day where the students met the teachers and the parents stayed to fill out paper work.  We went to this shortened day and all was well.  On the second morning, as we headed off to school, Snags told me that “At least they don’t have fire alarms in the classrooms!”  It seems he’d scoped out the surroundings and noted that the alarm bells were outside the classroom doors.  “Maybe if they have a fire drill it won’t be so loud” he said.

“Don’t worry, Snags!” I told him.  There’s no way they’d have a fire drill on the 2nd day of school!  That’d be crazy!”  I scoffed.  And as usual, I saw Snags relax a little.

But I was wrong… 

When I picked Snags up from his after school care after his second day of school (his first FULL day of Kindergarten) he ran to me and said “I have something to tell you!” 

“Okay, what is it?”  I asked. 

“Not until we’re in the car!” he said. 

So we gathered his lunch box and his back pack and left for the car.  Once he was strapped in his booster seat, I sat in the driver’s seat with the car door open and turned to him and said “So, what was it you wanted to tell me?” and he said through gritted teeth “Shut. The. Door!”

“Okay,” I sighed, beginning to worry what he could possibly have to tell me that was so secret the car door had to be shut.

I turned back to him.  “Okay, what is it?”

“We. Had. A. Fire. Drill. Today!” He said.

I realized then it was highly unlikely that he would ever trust me again.

Then he went on to explain that during the morning announcements, right after they said The Pledge of Allegiance, the Principal announced that they would be having a fire drill.

“Where you scared?” I asked.

“YES!” Snags replied.

“Did you tell your teacher you were scared and what did she say?” I asked.

“She said it would be okay.” He said.

Snags told me how the class practiced lining up and going outside for the impending fire drill.  In place of a real alarm, his teacher made a “beep beep” sound and when she did that, the class had to line up and evacuate to the playground.  But they weren’t allowed to play.  And then the teacher said the practice was over and they all got to go back inside the building.

Later in the afternoon the Principal came on the loudspeaker again.  This time she was ready to actually have the fire drill.  She gave the children a one-minute warning.  I think they may have counted down.  And then, right as the alarm was about to sound, Megan, Oh Megan the child who pulled the fire alarm when she was a baby, screamed “EVERYONE COVER YOUR EARS!” 

So Snags was prepared.  He knew the alarm was coming.  He even knew when to cover his ears and line up and go outside.

He wasn’t THAT scared.  He survived.

“But NEXT time,” he told me in a bit of a worried voice, “They aren’t going to WARN us! The Principal said this was the last warning and next time it will be a surprise fire drill!” 

And I find it hard to reassure him.  I can tell him not to worry.  I can tell him it will be okay, because it’s true.  I just can’t tell him it won’t be today.  Or tomorrow…


Author’s note:  Snags’ elementary school had that “surprise” fire drill TODAY.  Tonight, a child who looks like Snags and acts like Snags, but most certainly cannot BE Snags, said to me “I LIKE fire drills!”  Upon further inquiry, the imposter child stated that his reason for liking fire drills is “…because we get to go outside!”  and also because “…elementary school fire drills don’t frighten me as much as the ones at daycare did…”

And that’s the first step in denial and why I had to get the entire fire drill story down.  Because one day, most probably in the near future, this kid of mine will swear he never had a fear of fire drills, that I didn’t spend an entire year asking the daycare center director on a daily basis if there was going to be a fire drill that day.

 So whether Snags is 7 or 15, 23 or 30 when he denies this all ever happened, I can say “Oh yes it did!  Here, read this.  THIS is how it all went down!”



Filed under alarm, fear, fire drills, humor, life, shoes, Snags

Notes From a Wedding

So I attended a wedding last weekend.  The one I mentioned here.  I ended up being both too busy and too lazy to go shopping for a new outfit, so I wore the little black dress I already had hanging in my closet.  I did, however, buy a new pair of shoes to go with it.  At least, they looked like shoes; black strappy HIGH heels with shiny, fake rhinestones on them.  In actuality, I am pretty sure they were just medieval torture devices. They felt fine in the shoe store, but after ½ an hour at the wedding, it was more than clear:  those shoes were made for sitting.  They were NOT made for walking.  Or dancing.  At one point, when a cousin commented that she liked my shoes, I offered to give them to her, right there, on the spot. Because I liked her shoes, and I think we could have made a good trade.  Only too bad for us: I was wearing a size 8 and her shoes, which would have looked equally nice with my dress, were only a 7.  I figured if I was going to torture my feet I might as well do it in the correct size, least I make matters worse.

The wedding was beautiful.  The reception was fantastic in a fabulous setting, with great food and great fun.  I think, if you had been there, you would have had a good time.  I did, even if my feet didn’t.

Still, a couple of things happened at the wedding that I thought worth mentioning.  In doing so, I hope to help anyone who is reading this and planning a wedding themselves, or planning to attend a wedding.  You might want to be prepared for such…. situations, should they arise.

In the wedding party, there were TWO women named Emily and TWO men named Keith.  I wondered if it got confusing during all the hairstyling, and dressing, and tying of ties.  Did they have to use the first of initial of their last names like they do in my son’s preschool class?  Because Snags will come home from school and tell me something astonishing and I’ll say “Bradley Phillips did THAT?” and he’ll say “No, mom, not Bradley P.  Bradley V.”  Like I’m an idiot.  Clearly.

So I wondered if at some point as the wedding party was getting ready if someone, maybe the bride, asked, “Have you seen Emily?  And another bridesmaid said “She’s standing right next to you!” and the bride had to say, “No, not Emily P.  Emily V. !  She has my earrings…”  Or maybe as the men were getting ready the two Keith’s got their tuxedo’s mixed up and panicked for a split second – “This jacket’s too tight!  These pants are too long!  What are we going to do?  The wedding starts in an hour!”  But then they sighed in relief and laughed a bit when they realized that Keith M. had been given Keith N’s tuxedo by mistake.  And once they switched them, all was well.  Anyway, I’m not sure if this was a problem at all, but I imagine it could be, so there you go, something to think about.

At the church, right before the wedding ceremony started, I looked over my shoulder and saw, out of the corner of my eye, the sleeve of a dress on one of the groom’s aunts.  I thought, “Heyyyy… that sleeve looks mighty familiar…” and I looked down at MY sleeve, (which was easy to do because my head was already turned) and I said to myself, “Yes!  HER sleeve looks like MY sleeve! I hope we don’t have the same dress on…”  Only, it turned out we DID.  The groom’s aunt and I WERE. WEARING. THE. SAME. DRESS!  Lucky for us, this was a wedding and not a prom.  I mean, nobody really cared what we were wearing, right? 

We joked about it.  She asked if I’d gotten my dress on sale.  And I said, “I don’t remember.  This dress has been hanging in my closet for 2 years.”  But she had just bought hers.  And that was a relief because:

1) it meant I’d bought my dress FIRST, and
2) I was still in style, baby!

I mean, hey, if they are selling the exact same dress 2 years later, it must be a classic don’t you think?  So we made a pact to wear the same dress AGAIN when my other cousin gets married.  He’s still in college though, so I imagine it’s going to be a while.  But you can bet I’ll be wearing different shoes to his wedding.

Anyway, as embarrassing as that was, to have the same dress as one other wedding guest, I started thinking (ahem… after several glasses of wine) how the wait staff at the reception must have felt. Like me, they were dressed in black too.  Black shirts, black pants.  All of them.  The same!  And THEN, there were five women wearing the same floor length sea foam gowns!  And for some reason, they actually stood near each other all night long! 

I commented on the odds of all of this to my husband as we drove home that evening.  The coincidences were too great.  With odds like that, it seemed we should buy some lottery tickets.  But he only rolled his eyes in exasperation.  He reminded me that the bridesmaids were supposed to be dressed alike. As were the caterers.  And so the only coincidence, after all, appeared to be in my wearing the same dress as someone else.

“Ah!  Okay, you might have a point there.  Maybe I had a little too much wine.”  I remarked.  “But it’s not my fault. My feet hurt.”

About 2 hours into the reception someone said that my 98 year old grandmother had lost her hearing aid.  This wasn’t the first time that had happened and so I asked a relative how many times she was allowed to lose it before they stopped replacing it.  She is 98, after all.  It’s not like it was a retainer and if you threw it away AGAIN at lunch and your parents were pissed off and didn’t replace it… Well, at 98, her teeth aren’t even HER teeth.  They won’t go all crooked on her again unless her Polident slips, right?  And if they don’t replace the hearing aid, everyone could just shout at her, or write her notes.  Her eyes are still okay, so she could read the notes, as long as she doesn’t lose her glasses…

Dear Grandma,
We warned you, didn’t we?  We told you if you lost your hearing aid just one more time we would not be buying you a new one.  And now you’ve gone and done it, haven’t you?  So here you go.  We will write you notes on this pad of paper from now on.  And please don’t turn up the volume on the TV beyond a level 35 when you watch The Price is Right.  Any higher will blow out the speakers and we won’t buy you a new TV if you break this one…

One time, years ago, after she thought she’d lost her hearing aid while playing bingo at the local fire hall, one of my aunts spent hours upon hours combing through bags and bags of the fire hall’s garbage to find it.  She felt her way through several large stinky Hefty bags full of half eaten plates of macaroni salad without any luck.  But later my grandmother found her hearing aid — at the bottom of her purse. 

My aunt, the one who combed through all that rotting macaroni salad swore she wasn’t doing that again, and since none of the rest of us wanted to either, many of the relatives and all of the wait staff were dragged into playing FIND THE MISSING HEARING AID as a reception game.  We looked under tables, in purses, in the rest room, in the parking lot, along the pier.  No dice.  Maybe we thought, she was sitting on it. We made my grandmother stand up so we could check the seat of her wheelchair.  Still, nothing. I suggested we check the ears of some of the other elderly guests, just in case one of them had stolen it borrowed it. But nobody thought that was a very good idea.  And as I said before, my shoes were torture, so I wasn’t going to walk around and do it myself!

The hearing aid scavenger hunt went on and on.  And just when things started to look tragically hopeless, my grandmother found her hearing aid.  In her ear.  This was not unlike the way an amateur magician can pull a quarter from behind a child’s ear. And my aunt smiled smugly and mumbled to herself, “Ha!  Now you all know how I felt!”  Actually, I don’t really know if my aunt mumbled that to herself.  I wasn’t standing near her when the hearing aid materialized.  But if I was in her shoes, that’s what I would have said.  Only really loudly.  Because I’d been drinking.  And her shoes were probably more comfortable than mine, so if I’d been wearing them, I could have been even smugger.

Did I mention how pretty the reception location was?  It was held at a restaurant next to a pier on a river.  Each table was covered in white cloth and candles.  There were hundreds of candles, maybe thousands, lighting the rooms.  It was very pretty and very romantic;  absolutely perfect for a wedding reception.  Or, um…at least it was until somebody set their napkin down on top of one of the candles.  All I can say is that the fire was extinguished quickly, after a brief flare when someone tried to help by pouring the dregs of their mixed drink upon it.  But nobody was harmed. The only thing burnt was the napkin, and part of the tablecloth. After that the candles were even more romantic considering they had that added mystique of FIRE HAZARD.  If you are planning your own wedding with lots of candles you might consider adding small bottles of flame retardant and miniature fire extinguishers to your table decorations, along extra pairs of comfortable shoes (size 8 please), and spare hearing aids.

In all seriousness though, I wish a lifetime of happiness for the bride and groom.  You guys are an AWESOME couple!


Filed under candles, fire hazard, grandmother, hearing aid, little black dress, shoes, wedding, wine