As I’ve said earlier, I love to camp! I love sitting around a good campfire watching the flames dance. I love hot chocolate in the morning and making s’mores at night. I love the smell of wood smoke and seeing the dancing stars above.
I still love all of those things, but camping with children presents some new and interesting challenges depending on the age of the children. One of these challenges seems to affect all of my children universally. And that’s making s’mores. Actually, more fundamentally, it’s roasting the marshmallow for the s’mores that seems to challenge them the most. From my fourth grader to my preschooler, roasting marshmallows is a task they just cannot successfully complete.
And this makes for some very interesting, and often dangerous, moments around the campfire. First, there is the mad rush to the s’mores ingredients that causes this mom’s heart to flutter for fear of someone falling in the camp fire. It’s like my children have never seen graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows before. And it’s a race to see who can get their roasting stick in my face first for the marshmallow loading.
That brings up the next moment of fear. This is when I fear for my own personal safety. I go from saying “Hey, it’s time to make s’mores”, to 30 seconds later having four very sharp, roasting sticks in my face. One of these days, I think, they’re going to skewer my eye.
After I’ve called them all off, made them line up, and safely distributed the marshmallows, there’s a space of peace and quiet while they all attempt roasting the marshmallows. I savor this very brief moment, because then I have to be on my guard again . . . because, gasp, marshmallows burn.
Not only do they burn, but they burn quickly. My fourth grader has solved this problem for herself, by not really roasting her marshmallows any more. She sticks the marshmallow loaded roasting stick into the fire for, oh, 10 seconds. Then she pulls it out, declares it perfect, and makes a s’more with it.
My second grader says he likes his marshmallows black. So, he sticks his loaded roasting stick into the campfire, waits for it to catch fire, pulls it out and shoves it at me so I can put the fire out. Many times, I look up just in time to see a fire encrusted, dripping marshmallow headed straight for my hair. That always gets my heart pounding.
My Kindergartner has an even better way of roasting his marshmallow. He sticks his loaded roasting stick into the fire, where it promptly catches fire. He then proceeds to flick the roasting stick back and forth, as fast as he can, to put the fire out. One of these days, we’re going to start a brush fire because that flaming marshmallow gets launched into the bushes. Or better yet, we’ll burn down our tent.
I know, I should just not let my kids roast their own marshmallows. I keep thinking they’ll get it figured out. I keep hoping they’ll get it figured out. Besides, how else will they learn what to do if their tent burns down?