I planned poorly this summer. Our last several summers have been consumed by All-Stars; especially last summer, when I was the team Manager. So I thought it would be soooooooooo nice to have no commitments this summer, and just laze about with no schedule, no itinerary, no "need to be there an hour agos".
That was a mistake.
They've been out two weeks, and they are driving me berserk. One is hyperactive, and both have attention disorders. When you couple that with a complete lack of structure and a Mom who has a low tolerance for noise and disorder, what you get is one cranky Mom.
I know..."Send 'em outside!! When we were kids, we weren't allowed to come in the house unless someone was bleeding!"
But it's HOT here. Those not familiar with the South don't understand what I mean when I say "hot". Its a kind of hot that saps the strength from your limbs and steals the breath from your lungs. It's a dangerous hot. A "you could die from this" kind of hot. Even after twenty years here, I am still unequipped to deal with the searing intensity of the Southern summer.
So *I* certainly don't want to be out there during peak hours, and I can't honestly blame my kids for not wanting to be out there. We spend a lot of time at the pool and the local beach and water parks, but our budget will only allow so many visits to the latter, and our small, unappointed neighborhood pool gets old after a while.
We know a guy through the baseball park where the boys play. He is the head Coach for the local High School baseball team, and fortuitously, he is holding a camp this week. They were still accepting registration, so I jumped at the chance and enrolled the boys.
When we left this morning, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The profound humidity of the last two days has evaporated, and there is, blessedly, the tiniest bit of a chill in the air. It's this chill that the whole of the South will be praying for by Mid-July. It feels good to fill my chest with the fresh, clean air. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and everything is still green and lush.
It's one of those days that makes you feel good to be alive.
As I have for the last two days, I wait around until after they have broken up into their respective age groups. I chat with other Moms and just enjoy being out of the house. I watch the herd of boys in their murmuring melee.
Today, perhaps because of my buoyant mood, enhanced by sunshine and the delicious prospect of a morning spent alone, I am struck by the sheer beauty of these children.
They are fair and freckled, dark and wooly, coffe with cream and cream with coffee. They are blonde and brunette and every shade in between. They are short and tall, lean and plump. Some are still sleepy eyed, blinking and yawning. Some are already hard at horseplay, fueled by a kind of energy I will never again know.
The drawers of the smaller boys droop like the seat of a well-worn union suit. They sag comically on slender bottoms. The bigger boys are bursting out of pants that fit them only weeks ago; their knees and elbows jut forth sharp and proud. Many of them display team and tournament shirts. Some, no doubt spurred to practicality by a well intentioned Mom, wear only cotton tank tops.
They tote their water and their equipment and they talk and laugh and smile. Moms holler warnings and hasty good-byes. They say yes while their eyes look elsewhere, too full of happy distraction to pay heed. For what can possibly touch them on a day like today?
The are all eager. They are all exicited. They are all caught up in the magic that is childhood summer. They are all magnificent.
And then, against my will, I am consumed by an unwelcome darkness as I think to myself, that every child should know this kind of freedom, innocence, and joy.
But they don't, and my heart is heavy with that knowledge.
I don't want to think of children who have lost their homes and their families to war, famine, disease and poverty. I don't want to think of children who start their day by drawing water from a contaminated stream, who may eat only one meager meal that day. I don't want to think of children who wake up and head off to work in a dim and roaring factory. I don't want to think of children who are being tormented, tortured and abused.
But how can I look upon my own healthy, happy children and not see the misery of others? How can I look upon my own beautiful boys and not know that they are so very, very lucky? How can I not ache for what other children go without, while also thanking the stars above for all that my children will never hunger for?
It makes the sun shine a little less brightly in a sky that I realize, may not be such a wholesome friendly blue elsewhere in the world.
I push it away, damn me. I push it away and resolve not to think of it today. Not when things are so right in my world. I'll think of it again when they days are cold and gray, and let the chill of sandness seep into my heart and my bones. Maybe I will shed a tear, maybe I will be spurred to action.
I know now is still too late and I let that soothe my guilty conscience as I go about my day, secure in the privilege of forgetting.
But it will come to me again. And again. And again. I know this. And I know that one day I will not be able to push it away. I will be forced to draw it close and embrace it. To breathe in the stench of hopelessness and need. I will have to act.
But not today. Today everything is beautiful. I can believe it.