I had a friend, growing up, who felt she was not supposed to come home with dirt on her clothes. A young lady was not to do that.
Which is how I learned early on to treasure my mother’s take on us after a good day down at the creek or in the woods in the back yard: she would give us an appraising look with a grin on her face and pronounce, “You must have had *fun* getting THAT dirty!”
She had this big bicycle horn she would raise high and honk to call us home from all over the neighborhood; all the other parents and children knew that sound too and if we didn’t hear it would tell us, Hey, you, your mom’s calling you.
We would hold back and go one at a time, going all out up the sloping street to Mom, especially in the summertime when the light continued for so long after dinner: run run running trying to pick up speed and at the end leaping up into her arms where she would swing us around and around and around on the grass, often till we were so dizzy we would fall down in delight when she let us down into the grass (or if that didn’t work, we’d go airplane our arms around and around afterwards till we made ourselves dizzy enough). Just every now and then, she would fall down laughing too.
We learned we couldn’t be jealous and try to push ahead of the next kid–-Mom couldn’t catch two at once. She was perfectly capable of turning her back and chirping cheerfully as she walked away, “Nope! Lost your chance!” Awww, MOooooommmmm…” We had to take turns.
Remembering the days, I used to do that with my kids. I had to give it up for awhile when my lupus was just too severe to try it, but to me it was an important part of childhood. Our California house didn’t have a front lawn to fall into, so my kids had to settle for the leap without the run and, often, the rug instead of the lawn. But you make do.
I wrote in my book, “Wrapped in Comfort,” about my friend Lisa who offered to trade off babysitting our preschoolers so I could do the indoor swim therapy that ended up helping my arthritis so much. She moved away when my youngest hit kindergarten; she went on to have one more child.
Several years later, she and her husband decided to take their family on the long drive to go tour the sights in Washington DC because that was when my family was going to be there for a wedding.
They joined us at my parents’ house for part of a day.
The sun was almost gone. You could see just enough out there.
Her little four year old didn’t quite get what was up until he was and then he and I were twirling around and around on the lawn till we (carefully) fell down dizzy.
His big brothers exulted, jumping up and down, cheering him on: NOW their little brother finally knew what their California life had been like. What their preschool memories were all about. Now he belonged to us too.