So, in case you're ever in a hurry to prepare a belated dinner for three hungry men of varying shapes and sizes but ferociously competing appetites, and in case you're tempted to scurry around the kitchen and do things in half the time with half your brain, take a word from me:
Slow. Down. Sister.
That's exactly what I was doing tonight, and I even recall these wise words from my husband: "Babe, slow down. You might forget something."
By 'something,' I'm pretty sure he was referring to the oil I should have put in the pan before I heated the pan to atrocious degrees. Instead, I simply heated the pan. Searing hot metal, on my stovetop, without a single thing in it. That's a smoke alarm waiting to sound.
So then, when I needed to fry the chicken patties into the horrifically hot pan, I poured in the necessary oil... and flames instantly shot up to the ceiling.
I have learned a few lessons from this encounter with vegetable oil on hot metal.
It turns out, a grease fire will not burn itself out. So, waiting for it to stop burning on its own will merely fill the kitchen with black smoke. And cause significant damage to the cupboards and the microwave.
And, we now know, that the firemen aren't kidding. Water does not put out a grease fire. Only a lid on the flame, to suffocate the flame. (I tried water first. Not wise.)
And, in case you wondered, burnt hair is one of the worst smells in the history of mankind, and it remains to be seen how much damage was done to my goldilocks. So far, bits are breaking off in my hand every time I run my fingers through. That's maybe not a great sign, but I try not to overreact. Stay tuned.
And, aloe is a good cure for burns to the fingers and wrist, from carrying a wildly flaming pan across the kitchen and leaning over it to turn on the water, which did not in fact help the situation. Thank you, aloe. You have been my friend through many a sunburn and now kitchen disaster.
And, husbands come running when wives are screaming.
And, children who witness a direct encounter with open flames in the kitchen (however from a safe distance) will require many, many, many therapeutic conversations about the safety of our house, our kitchen, and our future meals. And, the older child is likely to tell his entire new community of preschoolers about the smoke alarms we still hear in our minds.
And, my maternal instincts kick into high gear when there is any impending threat to my family or my home. I would have sat on that fire if that's what it took. I'm not sure it would have helped, and it would have led to an entirely different blog post. But the point is: the depths of maternal fearlessness are deafening. Open flame, singed hair, and burnt arms notwithstanding.
And, if you're looking for a fast ticket to a dinner out, try nearly burning down the kitchen.
In all truthfulness, I am humbled by it all - by such a close encounter with that which can overtake in a heartbeat. It could have gotten so bad, so fast... and I got a small glimpse of that fear.
We are okay.
Well, except for my hair. I'll let you know.