I grabbed my son to raise him up and help him roast his first marshmallow. He was soaking wet from playing in cooler water. His clothes were caked in mud after he spent a good twenty minutes stomping and splashing in a puddle of rain water. His mohawk had cheese in it from when he decided to run his cheeseburger through his hair. Why he did that? No idea, kid moves to the beat of his own drum. I guided his stick and marshmallow towards the flame, with his hands firmly grasped under mine. My hands completely covered both his little hands, protecting them from heat, as I tried to keep his marshmallow from taking a dive into the coals.
My hands felt the lick of the flame. It didn’t matter. In this moment, the sweat beading down my face was of determination to make sure my son got the perfectly roasted first marshmallow. There would be plenty of time for marshmallows to be swallowed in the flames. This one though, it was his first. My son’s first roasted marshmallow wasn’t going to be anything short of perfect.
In that moment, I was doing what I do best in this world. I was being a dad.
Somewhere along the way to this moment, someone cupped my hands purposely and carefully guided my marshmallow towards an open flame. I was taught how to roast a marshmallow. How to blow the flame from one side of the marshmallow around it, creating the perfect crispy outside balanced with an absolutely gooey inside. And now, I get to teach my son how to do that.
It goes beyond the seemingly simple act of roasting a marshmallow. Getting to share experiences with my children have become hands down the best parts of parenting to me. In those moments, the feeling of joy attached to doing something I love are magnified by the fact that now I get to share these things with my children. I mean, come on, how awesome is that? These moments are cherished and renewed. Little rites of passage for both my sons and myself.
All parents secretly (or openly) hope their kids enjoy the same things growing up. The same things that we parents grew up loving and holding dear to our hearts. We have these moments that just fill us with joy because we get to teach our children something we long forgot the magic of over the years. The once special feeling returns to something as simple as a marshmallow over an open flame. There is wonder in it again. A long forgotten feeling of pure happiness has now been compounded on. As our children’s faces light up with wonder and joy, something inside us has gained a new dimension.
That new dimension, of getting to share something with our child, is so profound it affects us. We find ourselves enjoying things we haven’t enjoyed since childhood, bragging to coworkers about how we had a blast making S’mores over the weekend. A sense of pride fills our chest as we brag on about how quickly our kids got it down. How it only took so many tries before they were doing it on their own.
Then you sit there, totally floored at the thought that this may very well be a cycle. That someday your child’s hands will carefully cup their child’s hands as they guide them towards roasting their first marshmallow. That is when the tears start welling up in your eyes. It is that corny sometimes. It is also honest and true. A magic and wonder in an activity is imparted and passed on from generation to generation.
How cool is that? Parenting is amazing. It is filled to the brim with these wonderful little moments that reawaken the youthful spark inside. Joyful occasions that are equal parts simple and awe inspiring. We don’t just create a roasted marshmallow. We forge an everlasting moment. One that is frozen in time, only to reawaken when the time is right. When our child becomes a parent. It is so much more than a S’more. It is the loving bond between parent and child. And you know what? It doesn’t get better than that.