So, you know how parents love to gush about how their kid can play independently? How it’s so great that their little one can keep himself occupied? How he can play on his own while mom or dad makes dinner/folds laundry/writes a blog post?

Um, yeah. I am here to tell you that it’s not so great. This so-called “independent play” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Actually, it can lead to some pretty sketchy dealings.

You don’t believe me? You think “independent play” is, in fact, as great as all the experts tout?

Ha! You are wrong.

I will explain. Let’s take, for example, last night after Conal went to bed. Owen turned on the fireplace for the first time this season. We were relaxing; reading the paper, watching the ballgame, just hanging out. I commented on how it smelled a little like burning hair. “It’s probably just dust,” Owen said. I agreed. You can get that burning dust smell when you turn the heat on for the first time so it made sense that it would happen the first time we turned on the fireplace.

We spent a few hours enjoying ourselves. Relaxing, as I said.

And then I looked at the fireplace and saw it. It looked a little like this:

I do believe I screamed. It was a reserved scream, I’m sure. But, nonetheless, I was freaked.

What was it?

Well, certainly, it was something that explained the burning dust/burning hair smell. But neither Owen nor I could imagine what it was. I sat and stared at it. Owen turned off the fireplace.

Then he got a knife. He poked it. I got a spatula. I poked it.

Owen opened the windows. I took over the knife and began to try to pull this blob, this horrid seeping thing, out of the fireplace. And then it looked a little like this:

And, suddenly, our eyes widened. I think we may have even said, “What the–?” in unison.

The blob became clear:

Yes. A remote control. In some period of wonderful “independent play,” Conal had shoved the little remote control in between the glass and the fireplace vent. When we turned on the fireplace, it melted.

That little guy was off entertaining himself with implements of mass potential noxious fumes while I was doing who-knows-what for who-knows-how-long thinking that this “independent play” was terrific! A wonderful thing! Good for all of us!

Clearly, I was naive.

It’s all sketchy dealings, this “independent play.” Sketchy dealings.

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