According to the internet, right now kids are setting fire to themselves on purpose. The Fire Challenge sounds (and is) incredibly stupid, but when I was a kid we did the eraser game (erasing the skin on our hands to see who could get the worst scar) and the fainting game (hyperventilating and getting choked in the bathroom until you pass out) and we even did the Chubby Bunny challenge (packing marshmallows into your mouth and saying “Chubby Bunny”) until some girl suffocated from it. Then you’re suddenly confronted with the fact that you’re mortal. I mean, death by marshmallows? Nothing was safe. So then we stopped doing stupid, dangerous things until we turned into teenagers and began doing different stupid, dangerous things.
But here’s the thing… Am I supposed to tell my nine-year-old child not to set herself on fire, or is it just a given that I respect her intelligence enough to know that she’ll instinctively know not to set herself on fire. Or will mentioning setting herself on fire just put the idea into her head? They never cover this shit in the parenting books. I mean, setting yourself on fire seems pretty up-front in the “DON’T DO THIS, YOU IDIOT” category, but then again, intentionally peeling off layers of your own skin and letting people strangle you for fun isn’t exactly “normal” in hindsight, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt to mention it.
“Hey, sweet girl,” I whisper to Hailey as she drifts off to sleep. “Sweet dreams. Sleep tight. Don’t set yourself on fire.”
My work here is done.