There is a lot to teach Ethiopian kids when they come into your home. In addition to English they need to learn about bathrooms (how to use a toilet you sit on, what to do with the toilet paper, and what the towel is for), how to use silverware, not to push every button on all the electronic devices in the home, etc.
Then there are all of the safety rules. Wear a seatbelt, wear a helmet, and by golly wear a coat when it is below freezing outside. Think of all of the "don'ts" we have already taught our kids. Don't run in the street or across parking lots. Don't walk off in a store. Scratch that - just don't walk off at all. Don't ride your bike with your eyes closed (still working on this one with F.G.). Don't play rough on the steps (K.D. has tumbled a full flight already).
For all of the rules we have taught our kids, we missed one.
Don't pull fire alarms.
It was crazy hat night at church last night. When my kids and I arrived we were swept into a sea of bobbing hats flowing down the hall. I saw K.D.'s hand go up to the bright red box as he passed by. The white lever must have a universal appeal since K.D. could not read the "PULL ME" words that have tempted countless other children through the ages.
I was two arm lengths behind K.D. Reaching for him was out of the question with at least four big hat heads between us (one of which was our own baseball cap to the right, Old Navy cap to the left, Tigger hat on top concoction). So I yelled instead.
I got everyone's immediate attention except K.D.'s. He proceeded to pull the lever down setting off the alarm. I reach the box and tried to put the lever back up to turn off the sirens. Well, you learn something new every day. When you pull a lever, it locks in the down position.
The hallway got packed as all of the hats further ahead turned around and were being shooed back to exit the building while all of the hats behind us continued to be shooed forward since their parents could see that it was a false alarm.
K.D. was standing there with his own cap-cap-cap concoction displaying his large beautiful brown eyes that were, of course, a little larger than usual. His eyes did not display the "I just did something really bad" look, however, since he did not know that he has just done something really bad. It was a more pleasant "Gee, I just caused a lot of excitement and I think I like it" kind of look.
Our quick-minded and handy associate pastor appeared with his oversized key ring. He unlocked the lever, dispatched someone to call off the fire trucks, and proceeded to the main fire panel to silence the alarms.
Then, almost a fast as it had started, it was all over. You just don't know how relieved I was to know that the fire alarm system in our church actually works.
Oh, yeah. When all of the other people cleared out, I gathered K.D. and F.G. around one of those red boxes and taught them one more rule.