This was an evening that I had planned. She lit the Duraflame log in the fire pit and we waited for the paper to catch and change red flames on paper to flames licking the mesh screen.
As the flames flickered and the heat wafted up and out of the pit, we relaxed.
We leaned over the pit warming our hands waiting to begin roasting marshmallows. She 19 and me 60; experiencing the individual self-awareness of our differing ages mentally and physically growing into togetherness.
She will be a sophomore in college and we have made the decision to allow her to go back to the dorm and campus for a combination of virtual and social distance classroom study. I felt the need to up the conversation to reflect the reality of today’s world by not only reiterating the continued importance of wearing masks, sanitizing and socially distancing, but also to share my college years where I had the most fun of my life, learned a lot and experienced the highs and lows of the good and the not so good. I told her that I wanted her college years to continue to be filled with new journeys, striving to learn, engaging in contemplative conversations and dating with discernment, adding extreme caution to these experiences of our new reality. This realism is hard for adults and only deepens with children.
She responded with the occasional “uh huh,” acknowledging that she heard me as she ate her roasted and very sticky marshmallows. To engage her, I asked her if she could do anything and not get paid for it, what would that be? She thought for a minute and then said she would like to help the homeless, make sure they get showers, help them get jobs and guide them to the right path. I had a mouthful of warm slightly burnt marshmallows and immediately looked at her. We talked about her vision and what would have to happen to manifest it and then sat in silence enjoying each other and the fire. Her phone rang and she answered and told him that she was hanging with her mom.
Spending time with my daughter in this manner would not have happened some months ago, because I would have still been sitting in traffic coming home from the office. In March our collective reality changed. The stress level has risen, preventing the thinking required to process next steps. If we plan quiet time and open up our inner teenager we could de-stress the family and create the environment where our energy manifests calm.
There is no way to shelter from all harm in this country because peoples’ beliefs are so different. A belief is not a fact. Factually, people are dying; losing their jobs, their homes, their businesses, their careers and our children are losing their education. In some ways we are sheltering in place from each other. We have to find an unselfish space to think, to plan, to rebuild and to educate because all of our children’s futures depends on it.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to email@example.com.