I hear Juliana and Joycee (Richard’s little sister who is about Juliana’s age also) squealing with delight. I checked on them just 15 minutes ago and they were in the backyard, with swimming goggles on, unapologetically squirting water at each other with bright-colored water pumps. We do not have a pool so I guess they are doing the next best thing to beat the heat. I think it is too much even for energy balls like them.
I am sorting out clothes — mine, Richard’s and Juliana’s — putting away some for storage, setting aside a pile to give away. Our dressing room closets are crammed. I feel the constant urge to unload. Moments later I go down again, looking for cold fruit, only to realize that the two girls had found another playmate. My husband has joined them. He who loves to water the plants (he says it is therapeutic and that, like doing the grocery, it relaxes him) is now watering the children with a garden hose. I get two pieces of kaimito from the fridge, settle in a chair contentedly, and watch them while I eat. He is now teaching the girls to slide the proper way. On your mark, sprint… slide. I always thought you did it with your heel. Apparently not.
Baseball players do it best. They tilt to the side mid-run, landing smoothly on one side of their thigh and butt, one leg crossed (like de kwatro) under the back of the knee of the other. To give them a better feel of how it is supposed to be done Richard pulls them by the hand while seated. They love it. They love learning anything properly when it is in the guise of play. I am learning that truth now more than ever, with Juliana growing up. They do not get it the first few times, not quite; either they fall over slightly or just plain plop down on their behinds. But they persist. And pretty soon it is almost second nature to them. They now look and smell like dirty little puppies, covered with mud and grass, just getting it on. Whoosh. In one swift swoop they skid down a short length of the lawn. They laugh as much as they fall, maybe even more. The happy sound bounces off to me, making me happy as well.
I am soaking in the sun, the heat, my sweat, the sight before me. It is hot outside and I feel all warm and cozy inside. I feel very blessed. Before me are my real treasures.
I remember they were eating champorado with tuyo right before their water fun. I do not quite like the combination although it is apparently very popular here. I love tuyo but with plain rice only, and champorado just all by itself. Together, they do not excite me much — like sweet mangoes eaten with plain rice, I just don’t quite get it. But that’s just me. After taking a shower, they laze around. And in the quiet of this very hot summer afternoon, they lounge. And read. And loll around in bed. Watch the Disney channel. Fight and argue a little. Make up. Goof around like Mr. Bean. Then they go down to look again for more food, settling on some fruit, experimenting with taste by dripping some soda on the fresh pulp. It is strange, but Juliana seems to like it. (Or maybe the strangeness of it all is what makes her like it in the first place?) They explore, they discover, they widen their little world and grow.
Where did my summers like this go? The long, languid days that stretched on forever, as lovely as my dreams — when can I have them again? I am a mommy now, a wife, with a household to run and many lives to organize. There is a structure to my hours, a plan to my days. I guess from time to time it is but natural to miss the loose knots of youth — those cushy, carefree loops that allowed me to just skip from moment to moment with nary a care in the world. I still remember clearly the many joys that came with it. I remember the feeling so clearly I can almost touch it. But I’ve had that time of my life and I enjoyed it fully while it lasted. I wish all of that now plus more on Juliana, and Joycee and all the children her age. This is a golden time of sun and fun. Pretty soon they will all grow up and find out for themselves how life will not be always be so simple. It will still be beautiful, definitely, just not as uncomplicated. So I want to tell them, in all their innocence and youth, to soak it all up, every bit of it, so much so that there will be enough to get by when life’s little bumpy rides arrive. Happy childhood memories have a way of molding adults into a resilient, positive bunch.
The girls have set up a little tent in our room. It is Joycee’s, given to her by Santa for Christmas and she brings it every weekend to our house. They have been camping for two days now. The tent is a dark blue but you would never have known that because they have covered it with everything soft and pink. They even put in a little mattress because the hard floor was not so kind to their backs. They have books and pens in a corner, flashlights and emergency lamps, even little jugs of water for when they get thirsty. These kids know how to enjoy life and live their dreams.
I look at them and listen in on their little musings; their conversation making for an interesting backdrop while I am doing my chores. They are now laughing at the word kumpadre. For some reason it amuses them. They say it out loud and promptly collapse in heaps of laughter. They wonder if Billy Ray Cyrus would call the dad of Joe Jonas kumpadre if Miley Cyrus were to marry Joe. The thought sends them giggling uncontrollably over and over again. The whole day, all the way till midnight, kumpadre is the happy word. I wonder what it will be tomorrow.
I listen to them and thank them in a big way in my thoughts. Dear God, I am grateful for gentle days like these. I too often forget what it is like when life is this simple, when every day is but a summer’s day. Thank you for your fingers on my shoulders, for this shot of inspiring joy, coming so unexpectedly, like a warm smile from a stranger, or the fragrance of flowers carried ever so softly by the breeze.
For now, yes, this is my summer — my days are packed, I’m missing my cake (literally, because of my 40-day abstinence from meat and sweets), loving my family in heaps, and feeling so blessed. My summers may not be as simple anymore, but there will always be days like this to remind me how carefree it once was, and how one day when I am much, much, much older, it can still be. The cycle of life will make way for that.