Seemingly ordinary childhood activities are to be cherished

Despite the fussing baby boy in the library yesterday whom I badly wanted to scoop up and snuggle (“You go ahead and get some work done,” I’d say to his father who was on his laptop, “I’ll be in the fiction stacks with Mr. Gummy Smiles”; or maybe I’ll just make a sign: “Will relactate for crying babies”). Despite that precious baby, whose very smell ripened an ovarian follicle or two of mine, I like the ages my kids are.

Dan set up a fort for the kids in the backyard, the kind you could stand up in only if you were born say, after 2007. And it’s like someone plopped down Disneyland – the tarp and PVC version – in our yard because the kids head out there at 7 a.m. like commuters with their briefcases full of Legos and books.

Sometimes, all they need for hours is a plate of snacks strategically pushed under the fort, while I putter around the garden feeling insanely lucky and happy to hear their chatter (Col: “Look at the triple-decker bus I made!” Rose: “Well, I found the Legos for the triple-decker bus, so I sort of made it too, Coley.”); and insanely lucky and happy to be together, but not y’know, so together that I can’t pull a few weeds with the hand that’s not holding my beer.

Inevitably, the kids pack up their Fort Independence briefcases and return to their lighthouse of comfort, which is me. And they’re just in time, because by then I’ve had enough time with the tomatoes and the luxury of following my own thoughts and want nothing more than to pretzel their enormous bodies into my lap.

A couple weeks ago, Rose’s preschool held its annual “spring sing,” which consists of 40 or so spit-shined kids singing their tirelessly rehearsed songs to the beautiful backdrop of their own hand-painted scenery.

It’s always a festival of sentimental tears (those sweet faces belting out Bob Marley lyrics) and laughs (the nose-picking kids, the Joe Cocker, sing-like-it-hurts, faces).

When all those gorgeous children sang Simon and Garfunkel’s “59th St Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” so sincerely, so earnestly – “let the morning time drop all its petals on me/life I love you, all is groovy” – tears pricked the corners of my eyes and a voice in my head said: “Cherish this, cherish this, cherish their childhood.”

School is out and summer’s revving up, this brief and magical time that’s like a placeholder in my children’s lives, marking days of river play, camping, marveling over ladybugs and a carefreeness that my children inhabit like clothing. If it had a brand name, this summertime, we’d call it something like: the best of childhood. Something to cherish, indeed.

Reach Rachel Turiel at sanjuandrive@frontier.net.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.

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