Friday, June 15, 2012

Boy Conquers Fire

I have a 14 year old son.  Like every other teenager in the history of mankind, he is getting dangerously close to pyromania.

A couple of years ago he asked for a magnifying glass for his birthday.  At the time I naively thought it was for observing smaller objects.  Fortunately I thought to ask him what he planned to do with it before I gave it to him.  He proudly announced that he was going to use it to start fires.

The day of his birthday he opened the tiny package and did his best Wallace impression as he laughed gleefully.

He dutifully opened his other gifts (objects that cost money which I probably could have saved in retrospect).  As soon as he finished he asked if he could go outside and try to light a fire.  I told him he could as long as he kept it contained.

About ten minutes later he came in crestfallen.  His master plan had failed.  The weeks and months of research (watching a handful of YouTube videos of fellow pyro-enthusiasts with their lenses) were a bust.  My husband told him that it takes a long time to get it to work, and that perhaps he should try again tomorrow.

He did try the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.  Eventually he learned the nuance of lighting fires, but he was limited by how big he could build them.  I wouldn't relent about their containment, and he didn't have much space to build them in.

Once I knew he was trustworthy I bought a fire pit.  My main reason was to have a designated location for my son and his friends to build their fire for a camp-out in our backyard.  For the camp-out I let him use a lighter since it was evening,  early spring, pre-daylight savings time.

After surviving a night without constant adult supervision, and now that we had an actual fire pit, he began a daily routine.  He got up early, finished his chores and rushed outside as soon as the sun was high enough to kindle some coconut husk.  During the afternoons he would scavenge the neighborhood for dried up coconut husks.  He would search the overgrown areas at the park for pieces of rotting wood.  All of these were fed to his growing skill.

To be Continued...

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