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A now thing

One of the kids stepped out of the van today, froze, and said, “Shhhhhh.”

I listened. Sprinklers?

The neighbor’s sprinklers were on and I knew exactly what made the kid stop and reel in the sound. “That sounds like summer!”

But it’s not quite here yet. There are still a few more days of school to slog through, although academics have been thrown over in favor of field days, picnics, and an amusement park trip. We haven’t grilled any foods, pulled on swimsuits, purchased watermelon, filled a single water balloon, stayed up way too late just because we could.

Those things are poised, on the edge of a springboard. The water looks good and clear. The light hits it just right, striking mottled shadows along the bottom. You want to dive in, feeling the hot air slough away in a cold sleek rush.

Slowly, I’m learning to manage expectations about what summer will look like, smell like, and even sound like. I used to get caught up in the idea of perfect summers, convinced it was possible to create a balanced blend of laziness, exploration, exercise, sunshine, starry nights, screen time, work, and travel. I’ve already caught myself trying to devise ways to dice up time into portions.


I have big kids who have their own plans and little kids with no plans, yet I want to find common ground. Impossible.

I also have hard, beautiful reality whispering at me that this could be one of the last summers we will all be together. Aidan is going to be a senior, then she’s off into the I-don’t-know-where. So I’m struggling with the impulse to control the coming days knowing that control will most likely ruin them. I didn’t know all of this would be so difficult and emotional.

Water, arcing up and out, makes a certain sound when it lands on green grass. You won’t hear it in the fall, when leaves pad the landing, or winter, when hoses hibernate, or spring when rains alone do the trick. It’s a now thing and that’s all I have.

1 comment to A now thing

  • I used to dream of the “Perfect” summer as a teen. The only one that fit the bill ended when I got Lyme disease!

    As a father, I long for those summer cues you mentioned. For me, it’s the smell of a barbecue (gas or grill … they both count). That’s the tip off, the moment when I know the summer smells of cut grass, grilled meat and that slight whiff of flowers will be with us for the next three months.

    Now, if I could only tell my kids there’s no such thing as a perfect summer. The season is good enough as is.

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