Ever have casual, peripheral, or professional contact with people and know that you want to know them more?
I love people, and I love to meet and talk to new ones. But I don’t always love to sustain relationships. Sometimes, I find myself doing it anyway out of proximity or convenience or a desire for adventure, self-punishment, or intrigue.
But other times, I am so charmed by a person or couple’s energy that I become absolutely exhilarated if the opportunity to learn to know them better presents.
Lately, a fellow solo-professional, Jon, and his wife, Katie, have been on my radar in that second sense.
So imagine my excitement when they invited Fella, Child and I over for a campfire the other week. I already shared one anecdote from those glorious two hours. But here’s some additional homage.
On Campfire Parenting
Campfire parenting is hands-off. I tend to be pretty hands-off in general. If I can hear my kid, I’m good. And I’m also from the “you’re not hurt that badly, brush off and keep playing” school.
Child kept falling. No wonder: she was running around in the dark with Katie & Jon’s kid, and their (fabulous) neighbor kids. And she is typically not a drama queen. But she kept scraping herself and requiring bandages, which the other children administered, and which were generously fetched (along with antibiotic cream) from inside by Katie. Campfire parenting dictates that it takes a village.
Marshmallows! Child had at least four. I don’t know how many the other children had, but I know that the best part of a bag of ‘mallows was obliterated. Campfire sugar doesn’t count.
Then, science experiment in which I lent the application for flashlight on my phone to illuminate. It involved speculating about throwing roly-poly bugs into the fire, and strict admonishment not to by the grownups.
On New Context
One thing that I did know about Jon is that he used to be a Philadelphia police officer.
Being the lawless rebel that I am (haha), I have a specific view of police officers in my head: They are stern yes-people with no capacity for critical thought, caprice, or joy. Also, they take sadistic pleasure in restricting other people’s freedom, which seems to be something that ought to be taken with absolute certitude of desert, and great consideration, but of which the fuzz seem to be collectively incapable.
And this notion never really jived with my sense of Jon. But the campfire fun totally crystallized the fact that there’s not an ounce of that in him.
And when Katie told me that she grew up just her and her sister, I said, “So are you stoked to have boys?”
Which seemed like a reasonable question in thought form, but one that was mildly beer addled, b/c I felt like an ass as soon as I said it. But Katie saved the moment from raised eyebrows and back-pedaling. She said, “You know, I’m just stoked to have human beings.”
And she said it in this kind of awed tone of voice that accurately captured the sense of power, helplessness, and accomplishment that comes with parenthood.
All of this is why it’s exciting to be alive, to meet new friends, and to be a parent who likes campfires.