Written By: Leslie Means
I spent a summer during my childhood pulling leeches off my sister. She returned the favor and did the same for me, of course. It wasn’t our goal to be covered in parasites, but we didn’t care much. It was a small price to pay for the hours of fun we experienced in dad’s fishing pond.
The water was so deep that year. We jumped off trees straight into the muck below. We shared the same waves as the catfish and snapping turtles. I felt so free without a care in the world. It was likely one of my best memories as a kid.
It’s tough to choose a favorite though. There was a short span of summers that run together. All can be described as magical. You might remember the ones, too. For me they likely came between my fifth through eighth year of life. This was a time when it was still cool to hang out with my older sister – although I always thought it was cool to hang out with her. But during these short summers, she still thought it was OK to hang out with me. We weren’t concerned about boys yet and there wasn’t any distraction from TV or video games. It was just the two of us, and miles and miles of gravel roads, cornfields and fishing ponds.
It was good to be a kid.
My girls are there now. Both turn 3 and 5 within the next month. They are exactly 23 months apart – just like my sister and me. They get to experience summer life as city kids, not country kids like their mama and aunt. Not that it matters much. Summer is summer at that age whether you’re pulling leeches off each other or not.
They are just now old enough to play together. They’ve been soaking in the warm temperatures at the swimming pool and making mud pies in the backyard. They’ve been catching lightning bugs too – but they let them go after being caught. My sis and I would catch them and then squish their poor bodies on the sidewalk to light a path in the dark.
I hope they don’t follow our lead with that one.
I want to tell them they are creating some of the best moments of their lives. Sure there are so many fantastic days ahead of them; I hope you know those too. The first kiss, the first date, graduations, marriage and babies all waiting for them on the horizon. But right now it’s just the two of them. They are each other’s best friend. For a few short years they will create memories together – just the way memories should be created. They will discover beauty in simple things like the glow of a lightning bug or become fascinated with a roly poly bug. They don’t care about boys yet, there’s no worry about their image and no homework to do.
As an adult, I look at these years with weepy eyes. Childhood was such an incredible time – especially my childhood. I think the girls’ is going to be just as good. Is there a way I can teach them to soak it all in? Is there a method I can use that will help them remember this time when life was perfect and worries don’t exist?
Last Saturday night Kyle and I and the girls, stood outside in our backyard after dusk watching the neighbors light fireworks. It was the first day of sale so of course there was plenty of action. The girls were tired from a long day of adventure, but their faces still lit up with every sparkle in the night sky.
Just as we were about to call it a night, my youngest, Gracie walked over to her big sister, Ella, and gave her a small hug. Ella returned the favor by wrapping her arm around her baby sister.
“Kyle! Do you have your phone?” I whispered as we witnessed this hug oozing with pride. “I want to capture this! It’s precious.”
He didn’t have his phone – and I didn’t either. It wouldn’t have mattered either way as the moment was gone as quickly as it started. After a few seconds they were all giggles again.
That moment, like so many from childhood, can’t be captured on film anyway. Instead, it will likely be locked in their memory banks, forever. Summers with your very best friend are hard to forget. I know I’ll never forget mine.
Read more from Leslie in the Kearney Hub