poetry • art • marriage • momhood • faith

Joy on a stick, in a puddle

Before summer jobs and two-month-short semesters, before “grown-up” commitments and working straight through from Memorial to Labor Day with the mere hiccup of Independence, there was a time of riding bikes past nightfall and playing “Ghost in the Graveyard” after that. There were Kool-Aid stands to man and dusty games of run-down. There were toads and lightning bugs to catch and creeks to stomp through. A day at the pool meant a stop at the candy stand too. And of course, summer meant banana popsicles.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in being an adult and to miss summertime altogether. We go from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned cars to AC at work, the height of the mercury but a footnote of our small talk. If we take a summer vacation, it is typically eaten by travels, nothing like the long, sprawling summers of our grade-school years.

I was fortunate enough growing up that my mom chose to stay home with us, granting us kids the full summer experience, complete with, “If you’re so bored, I’ll GIVE you something to do!” Now as a mother myself, I sometimes worry that because of my working, my boys will miss out on the Norman Rockwell summers I remember. Like my husband and I, our boys have year-round, full-time schedules. Summer, to them, means hot, sweaty playtime at daycare with an occasional “water day.” I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to budget even tighter, to stay home with them, to give them what I had.

I wonder if they’re missing out.

Then, like yesterday, it rains.

They spent the dreary, stormy hours at daycare. By the time I picked them up, the clouds were breaking. By the time we got home, the pavement was dry. Save for one puddle.

Now, when it comes to puddles, a parent’s first instinct is typically to tell her child, “don’t.” And I did, at first. But then when the little one did anyhow, his face glowed with pure joy. In that moment I was as happy as my child. And he was having more fun than on Halloween and Christmas morning together — how could I deny him that for the silly sake of wet clothes?

Today was a beautiful day, and not too hot. After picking the kids up and eating a dinner of the four-year-old’s choosing (dinosaur chicken nuggets, Disney-shaped whole grain pasta leftovers, blackeyed peas), I joined the boys and some neighborhood kids on the front stoop for a dessert of banana popsicles. Once again, summer found me — this time in sticky grins.

I guess as the responsibilities pile on and vacations grow thin, joy reveals itself through moments — for me, most clearly through my children.

5 Comments

  1. Chucka Stone Designs Chucka Stone Designs
    June 25, 2008    

    I hope your smile translated into you slashing around in that puddle with them! It sounds like such a lovely evening you all enjoyed together, lazy hazy :~D

    Banana popsicle — actual frozen banana on a stick or something else?

  2. Chucka Stone Designs Chucka Stone Designs
    June 25, 2008    

    no…I hope it was nothing about slashing but rather sPlashing. Wow one little letter makes a world of difference lol

  3. Bree Bree
    June 25, 2008    

    …working straight through from Memorial to Labor Day with the mere hiccup of Independence…

    … In that moment I was as happy as my child…

    …summer found me…

    Beautiful.

  4. Ginger Ginger
    June 28, 2008    

    this was so beautifully written julie, it was like the opening chapter of a book that grabbed me from the start.

    and those kids are too adorable for words, the look on that little one’s face in the first picture is pure joy and it made me giggle.

    thanks for that (warm fuzzies)….by the way, don’t know if you clicked the “send replies to your email” button, but i replied to your comment on the brown rice salad recipe.

  5. artjewl artjewl
    July 4, 2008    

    Jenn… Even with little boys, there are some instances when it’s a good thing to have a little pee in it… 😉 “slashing” is one of them! (“Lightning McQueen underwear” is not.)

    As for banana popsicles. Frozen bananas are good, but no match for the icy, unnaturally yellow, chemically flavored high-fructose corn syrup on a stick. 😉 No good for you. I’m aware of that. But they’re yummy. And a treat.

    Bree, thanks for pulling the lines you especially liked. I always appreciate that kind of specific feedback. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I’m especially proud of the fact that I did it from my phone (all but some reformatting).

    Ginger, those smiles are why I am here. I mean it. Ever since I was little, being a mom was the only think I knew would be part of my future. Those flashes of joy are what make weeks like this one (oh, it’s been a sucky doosie) bearable.

    As for the recipe post, it’s funny that you pointed out here that you commented there — I almost ALWAYS check the “follow up email” box, but I forgot to that time, so your mention here was helpful. I still haven’t gotten to try the recipe yet. Like I said, this week has been pretty sucky. Hopefully I’ll get to post tomorrow or Saturday.

    Thanks, ladies. 🙂

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torch bearing quietly

I will not act out, will not
yell or curse or slam doors,
will not make a scene -- you
do not deserve such a chance
to make an example out of me
to be proven right since you
are not. Instead, I'll stand
at this street corner, raise
my hand high and clench that
light which yet remains. It
will burn brightly, quietly,
fiercely before fading as I.

Then I'll be gone but found.

©JAC 2005

Poetry by Julie Ann Cook!

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Love Like Weeds
by Julie Ann Cook
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