No new kitchen is thoroughly broken in until smoke from the oven or stove sets off the smoke detector. Unfortunately, I did so when my boys were sitting at the kitchen counter. The new smoke detectors are wired into the ceilings. Gone are the batteries of old. We discovered if one goes off, say near the kitchen, they all go off. Throughout the house. Creating an eerie echoing, like a sound effect from a sci-fi film.
Shockingly, a calm but insistent woman’s robotic motherly voice spoke to us. “Fire. Fire. Fire.” The high electric shrill beep of the smoke alarm was startling. This voice… unnerving.
Our three sets of eyes grew and locked gazes for several seconds when she started directing. As I grabbed a towel to fan the nearest alarm, I said in my best calm motherly voice, “There is no fire. It’s just smoke from the oven.”
Will and Liam were frozen as they heard repeatedly, “Fire. Fire. Fire.”
“Guys, there is no fire.” I tromped closer to the alarm and started fanning. They watched me with great doubt moving through their little bodies. She was winning them over. I could see their minds, capable of making big pictures, churning. In their heads, they were running out the door to our emergency meeting place in the neighbors’ front yard.
With 10 good waves of my towel – more than what was needed with the old detectors – beeping and speaking ceased.
She would be effective in an emergency situation, but I wish she was more perceptive in non-fire situations. It would be helpful to me if she said words like, “Bacon. Bacon. Bacon.” Or, “Last pancake. Last pancake. Last pancake.” Or even, “Mom’s Burning Food. Mom’s Burning Food. Mom’s Burning Food.”