The Boy Who Played with Matches.

ONCE THERE WAS a little Burmese boy who went into his bedroom, locked his door, and played with matches.

It didn’t take long before he set the curtains on fire.

When his parents smelled the smoke, they knocked on his door.

“Don’t come in,” said the little boy. “I’m not doing anything, and I’ll clean it up myself.”

“But we smell smoke,” his father said.

“Not a whole lot,” the little boy replied.

“So you mean there is smoke in there?” his mother demanded.

“Only a little bit. I can take care of it.”

This admission worried his parents.

“Let us in,” the boy’s mother demanded.

“I’d rather not,” the boy replied, because he didn’t want his parents to know he’d been playing with matches.

“Is something on fire?” the boy’s father asked.

“I wouldn’t say ‘fire.’ It’s a little smoky, that’s all.”

“But where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” his mother objected.

“It may technically be a ‘fire,’ but it’s nothing I can’t take care of.” He still didn’t want anyone to know what he’d been doing in his room.

“I’m getting the fire extinguisher,” his father said, and he dashed off to find the fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

“There’s no need for that,” the boy called out. “It’s spreading a little, but I can take care of it.”

“Open the door this instant,” his mother said in her sternest voice.

“I don’t need to,” the boy answered. “It’s hardly out of control at all.”

“Your bedroom is on fire,” his mother nearly screeched. “I want that door open right now!”

I’d rather not open the door, although I do appreciate your concern.”

At this moment, the father came back with the fire extinguisher. “Open the door,” he demanded. “I have the fire extinguisher.”

“I don’t think I need the fire extinguisher,” the boy replied, still dreading the consequences of letting his parents know what he’d been doing. “As far as I can see, I have everything I need in this room.”

“Let me in now!” his father shouted. “You need a fire extinguisher!”

I’ll tell you what,” the boy said. “I’ll open the door a little bit, and you can slip the fire extinguisher through to me.”

Let me in now!” his father repeated.

I know how to use a fire extinguisher. You can just hand it to me, and I’ll do the rest. Thanks very much for bringing it, by the way.”

Dear, your father needs to get in now,” his mother said as gently as she could, hoping that would help.

I don’t think so,” the boy replied, thinking of the lecture he’d got a few days before when he kicked the dog. “I’m not going to open this door until Dad promises that he won’t come in.”

That’s ridiculous,” his father replied.

That’s my deal,” the boy said firmly. “Take it or leave it.”

But your room is on fire!” his mother pointed out one more time.

I wouldn’t say the whole room was on fire,” the boy said. “There are definitely a few spots that still aren’t on fire yet.” And he refused to open the door.

So the little boy burned up in his bedroom, and his parents told each other that it served him right, and they hoped it taught him a good lesson.



  1. Cee Kay says:

    Is this, by any chance, a comment on how Burmese government has reacted to offers of international aid for victims of cyclone Nargis? I get a strong feeling it is. And if it is, its a very apt desctiption of the situation.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    Of course, in real life, only part of the room burns down. The dog, hamsters, and fish die, but the child suffers only a few small burns. In order to prevent the same thing happening again, he tells his parents they must increase his allowance so he can buy his own fire extinguisher. And, also, he’ll need some money to rebuild (doing it himself in his own way, of course).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *