I watch him intently. While aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents are lost in the laughter and conversation of the evening, I can’t take my eyes off of him. His shameless campaign ended when we elected to allow our 13-year-old son the sole responsibility of building and tending the campfire. I wondered if anyone else appreciated that the magnificent heap of intertwined sticks and crunchy orange leaves took him two hours to stockpile earlier that morning.
After carefully constructing a precise tower, he reaches for the lighter, and in a click, a tiny flame starts low and quickly ignites the smaller twigs. He moves with an ease that surprises me, and I realize he is so much like his father and older brother.
He pokes and stirs. He crouches and stands. When it flares, I tense.
When it’s subdued, I relax a little. He takes his eyes off of his masterpiece long enough to notice me staring at him.
We smile at each other.
When he walks over to me and asks, “Mama, would you like me to roast your marshmallow?” I almost lose it.
Years ago, Chris and the kids constructed the fire pit out of large rocks that they heaved up from the very same woods it borders. I am trusting my son to keep the flames contained within the small circle. To lose control could create an inferno that would threaten to consume everything I cherish most.
Darkness begins to quiet the guests. Weary little children sprawl themselves across the laps of their parents and voices begin to speak in hushes. Dancing flames and steady crackles mesmerize us all. The fire continues to illuminate the night and provide warmth from the chilly autumn air. I am happy.
I hope my son’s choices about sex will be as carefully chosen as the material he selected to build the fire. I pray he maintains control and realizes his choices can either produce potentially damaging consequences or something truly wonderful. Just like the contained fire, I want all of my children to realize that the beauty of sex is best represented when kept within the boundaries God intended.