Monday, February 02, 2009

This is Not a Test

I have a love/hate relationship with my smoke detector.

It goes off a fair bit, usually in response to smoke created from burned on food in my oven, as a result of spills or excesses that weren't cleaned off. The hallway of my colonial home right outside my kitchen creates some sort of tunnel making small amounts of heat or smoke a cause for alarm (pun not intended, but still clever, no?).


When it happens, I fight my urges to rip it out of the ceiling, and have learned to just wait it out. My husband hasn't learned the art of patiently waiting it out, which is why it hangs inches from the ceiling by the wires. Apparently he became so enraged by the piercing beeping that he tried to dismantle it, but instead broke the things that are meant to attach it to the ceiling, so there's no going back. It functions, but it hangs in reminder of the battle. I'm not sure who the victor of that battle was. Did the man beat the machine by ripping it from its moorings, or does the machine mock the man as it hangs by its wires -- battered but still functioning?

What's worse is when the battery is dying, and we get the intermittent beep. . . beep. . . beep. . . beep. . . beep. Why does this always happen in the middle of the night, just as I'm going to bed, or early in the morning right before I need to wake up?

Perhaps the worst "this is a test; this is only a test" beeping came one night last winter when we were experiencing power surges that caused the alarms to sound continuously for at least ten minutes. Ten minutes is a long time when you are aroused in the middle of the night and it's very dark, and the flashlight isn't where it's supposed to be, and you aren't sure what's going on.

This happened after midnight, and we were a bit confused as to whether or not this was a real alarm or some sort of electronic glitch. We took a risk that it was the latter (but I have to admit that I did call the fire department). I did learn a couple of things from that experience: my children need me, and they are even better sleepers than I give them credit for being. They both slept right through it, so had it been an "actual emergency" it would have been up to us to rouse them. As it was, two addled parents was disarming enough and I am thankful that my children enjoyed undisturbed slumber as we frantically stumbled around and made decisions about their safety.

But today the little white circular objects worked as they are supposed to, making me feel the love. We were doing the morning routine thing when we heard the intrusive sounds. Amanda came out of her bathroom, and I came out of mine.

"Oh, Kyle was making a Pop Tart," she said.

Our hit-and-miss toaster had apparently decided that several minutes was the proper amount of time to toast a Pop Tart. The Pop Tart disagreed and was angry, black, and smoky. As I was upstairs innocently applying mascara, my toaster oven was apparently inches away from a total meltdown. The four-year-old offender was innocently watching TV (apparently unaffected by the smoke and horrible smell).

So thank you, smoke detector. The one time that you've performed a useful service makes up for the tens of times that you've irritated me, but let's not schedule any more dates for trial runs or real alerts, 'kay?


morninglight mama said...

My kids have become accustomed to the alarm going off most times that the oven is being used. It's pretty standard to hear, "Dinner's ready!" from the two older ones whenever it goes off, and the baby has taken to signing "EAT" as well. Nice. :)

Amy said...

Are you sure your not talking about my smoke detector? LOL! The thing (the one in my kitchen)goes off even when I haven't burned something. I'm always waving a kitchen towel in front of it trying to get it to hush. Thankfully it hasn't gone off in the middle of the night. It seriously might get thrown out the window if it does. I'm not a nice person when awakened in the middle of the night.

Katrina said...

Uh-oh. Glad you were able to avoid a complete Pop-Tart disaster.

Whoever lived here before us really overdid it on the smoke detectors. One set is connected to our house alarm system, and I've had to explain, more than once, to a kind alarm company employee that No, there wasn't a fire, and Yes, I had just had a baking mishap. :)

Oh, and the detector in Logan's room is hanging from the ceiling by its wires. Chad tried to fix it twice and no just ignores it. As do I. It has won.

Beck said...

Mine goes off EVERY NIGHT while I'm making dinner and I swear that I don't burn things THAT much.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I confess that our smoke detectors need batteries. There are 2 in my ranch style hallway. Both go off after the slightest smoke from the toaster or oven. When you have sleeping babies this is NOT acceptable. So I take the chance that we won't have a real fire and leave the batteries out. Every once in a while my husband says "we" need to put some in. But he's not the one here hoping children sleep/rest for one blessed hour every day.