There was a flurry of activity lin our backyard late Thursday evening. One minute Herr Johnson was raking and trimming living things. The next, he was hoisting concrete blocks, constructing something. A fire pit, of all things, I noted.
‘Why did you build a fire pit’ I asked him once the boys were asleep, in between rounds of Bejeweled Blitz. It was perplexing really, since we’re (mostly me) not exactly camper-types. And the boys and I aren’t huge fans of sitting in smoke. Something about that lingering smell that clings to everything for days afterwards. Oh, and the way it burns your eyes and makes you cough.
‘I don’t know, for educational purposes,’ he responded matter of factly. I threw him a quizzical look while waiting for my Bejeweled score to be tallied. ‘I thought the boys and I could sit there and have some man lessons,’ he explained. .
‘Man lessons?’ I questioned/clarified. ‘Are you going to talk to them about the birds and the bees or something?’ I could hear the look of horror forming on his face.
‘Uh, maybe that will be like lesson 30,’ he retorted before explaining ‘I thought I could show them the safe way to make a fire….not the unsafe/weird/open way other people do it….and then we could roast marshmallows one night….and put our tent out there the next…..’
And it all sounded very adorable and Little House on the Prairie-ish. But, come on, maybe that would work with other people’s children. Not ours.
From the minute he got up on Friday morning, our oldest talked about the campfire they were going to build. Shortly. I tried to explain that Daddy wasn’t going to build a fire until it was night-time. Not at ten o’clock in the morning. Finally around 5pm, out of ideas for entertaining the troops, it was fire time. Except we didn’t have any marshmallows or accoutrements. And I knew my oldest would not forget the promise of a roasted marshmallow.
So I drove to Safeway while the man-folk set about the arduous task of building a fire. The whining had started before I’d even left the house. And, when I returned, the troops were in fine form. The Hen wanted to eat his smore ingredients right away. His brother wanted to roast a marshmallow by holding it five feet above the fire. The fire had died and needed to be resuscitated. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Smoke everywhere. All while I stood transfixed, holding my plate of smore ingredients. Incapable of doing anything else.
With all the commotion, the first two mallows were blistered, black.
The Hen took his without a fuss. But I could tell Mr. G was torn: accept a burnt marshmallow, or wait for a not-so-burnt one? Greed won out and he took the crispy mallow. But it was our Hennie’s first time with a smore, I think. Judging from the way he took the sandwich apart and got gooey marshmallow all over his upper arm. Not sure how that happened. He’d eat a bite, throw a fit about his sticky fingers and limbs, eat another, throw a fit. And so it went.
G was sitting on his wooden stool, eating lustily, while complaining loudly whenever the smoke would get in his eyes. ‘Here’s your man lesson,’ his father instructed. ‘Get up and move around, away from the fire.’
Not quite the warm and fuzzy campfire scene he’d envisioned, I’m sure.