When Summer Sneaks In and Puts Up Its Feet

photo credit: Vegas ER via photopin cc

photo credit: Vegas ER via photopin cc

Summer is here. It seemed to have slipped in during the night when we weren’t looking, creeping quietly through the screen door, kicking up its feet and asking for an iced tea.

It’s says here I am. And I’m delicious.

Summer is all skinned knees and toes rubbed raw from the pool’s rough steps. It’s hair that smells like sunscreen and greasy cheeks and goggle lines round the eyeballs.

It’s the casual way a boy (or three) walks down the street or plays in the yard, now all comfortable with going shirtless and most of the time without things on their feet. It’s the impromptu bathrooms that look strangely like your front yard bushes. Or your neighbor’s. Heaven help us all.

It’s hot dogs for dinner and lunch and snacks mid-day. And steaks. And burgers. Anything, really, marinated by men chefs, cooked on a grill and eaten while drinking lemonade out of plastic cups.

It’s the lazy hair, the un-fussiness of it all. The look of windswept sunshine, feeling permission to be natural for a short three months. It’s wearing sun visors and ridiculous floppy hats and sunglasses that make you look like Jackie O.

It’s regular ice creams, mid-day, late in the day, any day. The magical siren song of the ice cream truck, pure and precious in the eyes of your children. It’s the dripping, just like old times, down your arms–red, white and blue stickiness–the most perfect of summer tattoos.

It’s fierce and furious brotherly spats; knock-down, drag-outs that result in time-outs and secret snickers and conspiratorial smiles behind parent backs. It’s the renewal that follows, mostly due to the irresistible trampoline and Legos are always Switzerland.

It’s the movies, cool and inexpensive, every week. At a dollar a pop it doesn’t much matter what’s playing as long as there are Junior Mints. It’s seeing old favorites and watching your kids’ reactions out of the corner of your eye. It’s grabbing hands and blaming allergies in front of their friends when your sensitive one sheds a tear.

It’s bug bites all down your legs–painful, angry and red. It’s forgetting bug spray and paying the piper. It’s summer in the South, folks, a price to pay. It’s the realization that it’s totally, totally worth it. (I mean, can you possibly put a price on a Dogwood?)

It’s finding ways to cool down, mostly big jumps in the pool, sometimes a hose or a squirt gun right in the eye. It’s the big grins and exhausted bodies. It’s the endless heat and the amnesia of winter.

It’s swim team mornings and long, long meets. Races, buzzers, ribbons and watery smiles that spray you in the face when you greet them at the end. It’s moms who nearly cry with pride when personal fears are left in the wake of a solid freestyle stroke.

It’s late night bedtimes, late night chats, one more movie and brother sleepovers that produce the most fantastic scheming. It’s sure, let’s eat s’mores and yes, swimming counts as a bath. At least tonight. And if you’re honest, probably tomorrow too.

It’s hanging out with your kids, it’s home all day, it’s readjustment. It’s quiet reading and “mom, I’m bored” and thank God for no more rush-rush. It’s re-learning who you are to each other and how you move to this dance called family.

It’s saying no so you can say yes. It’s saying yes and finally, for once, not saying no. It’s feeling brilliant and fun and not so grumpy. It’s surprising and delighting and why don’t we always live like this?

It’s come on in and stay awhile. It’s kick up your feet. Have an iced tea.

It’s welcome home, summer. Welcome home.

Sweet Snapshots

photo credit: Geomangio via photopin cc

photo credit: Geomangio via photopin cc

He sat nestled behind a fort made of blankets and pillows, hidden from view and liking it that way. As I came to tuck him in that night he greeted me with that smile. The one that speaks volumes while at the same time revealing his just-brushed grown up teeth amidst his many remaining baby ones.

I immediately knew something was up. You can’t kid a kidder, I always tell him.

His smile continued to tell truths–his words just hadn’t caught up yet.

Ok, out with it.

And he pulled it out from behind his back. A walkie-talkie.

Not just small and black and made of plastic. More. Because in his hands he held the hope of talking with his buddy across the way once lights went out. The buddy who partners in building forts and exploring creeks and getting dirty. The buddy he says he’s going to go live with should his dad and I suddenly leave this earth (and good luck to his brothers in finding a roof for over their heads because there’s no more room at the inn.)

He smiled but a little nervous now. Caught. Thinking he’d be left with empty hands and no way to make his late night appointment with interesting seven-year old conversation best left to the airwaves.

But I smiled back. His eyes widened. The sweet snapshot of childhood grabbed me in that moment. Yes, I thought. Yes. Boys need their forts and walkie-talkies. They need this sometimes. At least tonight.

He needs this tonight.

So we prayed. I tucked. I ran through the obligatory rules about watching the clock on a school night and being responsible. He nodded, invigorated by freedom in the form of an item small enough to secure under his pillow.

I left him to it.

And I let the snapshot linger. It made me smile then and it makes me smile now.

Being the fun parent is not always ice cream before dinner (or heck, just ice cream after dinner) or skipping that bath. It doesn’t always wear the mask of jumping on the trampoline or buying trinkets or declaring it a “no vegetable day”.

It doesn’t always brazenly stick out its chin in defiance at old mama routine, sassy and carefree for an afternoon when new mama takes over. It’s not always a little extra this and nah, forget about that.

It sometimes means those things. But not always.

It’s sometimes simple. It’s sometimes merely allowing. 

Sweet snapshots of childhood–easy, mere moments in time. We can allow them and bless them.

Because those snapshots accumulate, you know. Into albums and albums and albums. Blessings, all.

One walkie-talkie and one fort at a time.