Summer Personified in a Six-Year-Old Boy

July 1st, 2017

My son loves summer. This may seem like an unimpressive statement because all kids love summer, but I think my middle child loves it more than most.

My girls are enjoying their break from school. My oldest is ping-ponging from camp to camp – art camp, nature camp, drama camp – while my youngest is thriving in a nanny-share with several buddies from her preschool. They walk to the park, splash in a wading pool in the backyard, and have pillow fights in the living room.

Yes, the girls are having fun this summer, but my son is the one that embodies the essence of the season. I think his soul is comprised of sun and dirt and laughter. And freedom. He doesn’t want the structured activities that his older sister adores. I gave him the option of participating in several themed camps and he emphatically declined. He’s perfectly content at an all-purpose day camp where every day is a repeating cycle of kickball and swimming and ice cream bars from the concession stand.

The concession stand is his first real introduction to money management. I give him five dollars at the start of the week and he often blows it all on the first day. This week he bought an ice cream cone and two chocolate bars on Day 1 – but claims he shared most of it with friends. It’s probably true. He’s a generous kid.

On the weekends, he roams the neighborhood on his bicycle (newly freed from training wheels!) with a gaggle of other boys, drifting from one house to the next in an ongoing search for food. He doesn’t need structured playdates or planned activities. His crew will shoot baskets in the driveway, swing bats at anything roughly spherical, or swap Pokemon cards for hours.

Sweet Summer ChildThen at night, we head to the park for little league and I watch him shake off the weariness of the day and come alive on the field. He loves baseball and he’s good at it. He swings hard and runs fast and guzzles blue Gatorade. I snapped a picture of him the other day and it’s an image that will encapsulate this season of his life for me. His round face is dirt-smudged but luminous, with a slight sunburn on his nose. He’s glancing over his shoulder to be sure I was watching as he arrived safely – triumphantly – on first base.

My sweet summer child is a throwback to a nostalgic time. He reminds me of a particular summer of my life when I was in high school and every day my friends and I played Frisbee, swam, watched movies, and ate ice cream. Day after day in an endless litany of carefree joy. You can’t engineer that kind of happiness. It grows organically and its memories last forever.

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