of sandy toes and summer pangs…

by bam

consider the toes above the official portrait of the start of summer. full of sand, soaked in lake wash. the aftermath of a long hot afternoon romping on the beach nearby with at least two dozen romping boys, fueled by chips and twizzlers, at best a half a PBJ (and that, only after persistent mama pleading). oh, lord, what were we thinking?

i worked from home the other morn, so i could be there for the noisy school bell, the last one of the year, the one that sends the goosebumps down my spine, every time, every june.

the one that says, summer starts here. right now. this whole delicious minute.

when not a second yet’s been shaved, worn, wasted (as if a minute of time could ever be wasted).

when i’ve not yet heard the wail, “i’m bored. there’s nothing here to do.” (glory be to boredom, the birthing place of big ideas, if left to stew for long enough…)

you don’t hear that siren song on day one of summer. not for the first half hour anyway.

and, as always, i wanted to be there to soak it in, to watch that beaming face come bounding out the door, the weightless backpack flailing from my little one’s shoulders.

my little one…..a phrase i might just have to hang up for good, on the hook in the front closet, along with this year’s ratty backpack, along with the lunchbox he’s outgrown, the one with superman’s cape, flapping from behind, the one he’s had since first grade, but now hides if i forget to instead use the plain red square one, if i pack it with his PBJ, and god forbid a love note tucked inside.

it hit me wednesday morn. hit me harder than the fact that my older one is now a so-called “rising senior,” will soon be in his last year of high school.

somehow, that doesn’t make me wobble quite as much as the little one moving on, on his way to fourth grade, the oldest grade of kids at his little school, the starter school, the one where reading’s secrets are unlocked, the one where kids learn about lunch lines and recess bells, the one where mamas hover by the schoolhouse door and aren’t yet greeted by rolling eyeballs, cocked shoulders, the air of you-embarrass-me.

my so-called little one, come end of august, will be–at last/so soon–among the big kids, one of the lanky stretched-out ones the little kindergartners look up to, crane their necks to see above the waist, so seriously do they tower over brand new 5-year-olds trying to find their way, somehow, to the boys’ or girls’ bathrooms, or, wait, was it the nurse’s office they’re searching for?

my little one might be no more.

oh, sure he’ll by my littlest one forever and ever amen. but little by little, the little part is slipping away. he’ll hold hands still–but only if it’s pitch-black dark, and we hear rustling in the bushes. if i slip and call him sweetie anywhere in earshot of another human 8- or 9-year-old, i get the dagger glance. how dare you? the hazel-brown eyes ask, subject me to such humiliation?

but that’s not the whole point here.

the point, mostly, is summer. and how i am longing for the seasonal distinctions that tell me something’s changed, we’ve shed the weighty school year, we’ve slid into the carefree days.

and while i did notice how bedtime hasn’t been a worry these past two nights, and while right now i’ve two sleeping boys in rooms just above my head, i am longing for the kind of summer that i only remember.

i am longing for a summer where my little one needn’t be rushed out the door, and into a carpool, headed off to camp.

i’m longing for the days of old, when caramel-colored little boy legs, all scraped around the knees, with cotton boy-print pajama shorts, came traipsing down the stairs, into the kitchen, and sat down to the sports page and a bowl of cheerios. when there was a fort in progress out back. when once those boys wolfed down the last little O, they’d be back to where they left off the night before.

the boys who inhabit that picture show are not my own, they’re my brothers. and the construction site in that ever-looping frame was the thicket down by the fence, near the gulley. or across the creek in the woods.

i am longing for popsicles, made from kool-aid. or, considering the calendar, the fact that this is 21st-century frozen confection and kool-aid has been deemed 100% artificial and thus bankrupt, i suppose we’ll go with fruit juice, and berries floating down below, before the freezing comes.

i am longing for twilight suppers, lit by fireflies and dripping candles, inside the summer porch, where the breeze wafts through screens, and we take our time, because no one’s in a hurry.

because in summertime, there are no worries. or at least not the way i wish summer to be.

i am, as always, longing for long afternoons curled up in the shade with a book i can’t put down.

i am longing for a fat tomato, and the juice dribbling down my chin, splattering my t shirt, a red badge of summer honor.

i am longing for corn on the cob, each yellow bump type-set across the row bursting with the taste of sun and field and america’s heartland.

i am even longing for long hours to yank weeds from my garden, where the pushing and shoving among the roots and stems is getting out of hand. and the weeds seem to stand a chance of winning best-of-show.

and more than in the winter, spring or fall, i am wishing on a star that my typing job didn’t call me way downtown, so far away from all that summer wishes it could be.

maybe i should call in sick for all of summer.

this is less meander and more just scrapbook. a compendium of thinking from the week. but here’s where you come in….what’s on your list of summer longings, and how will you make dreams come true?

the hard past of day one, summer, was that i didn’t get to stay at the beach with all the other carefree mamas. i had to get back to the keyboard. i left my little one under someone else’s wings. and i need that camp carpool because–despite his protests–camp serves as summer childcare. drat.

finally, a plea for a prayer or three for my dear mother-in-law, a loyal chair reader, who has an appointment with a surgeon come monday, and we want to whisk her straight to bump-free recovery. sending love. of course.