The Posse of summer theater
Hordes of unleashed children ran through the hood like they owned the place. The truth is, they do. Sitting in our lawn chairs, adult beverages in hand, we watched as young boys fired plastic projectiles at their un-padded friend who was guarding a lacrosse net placed in the street. I found myself flinching any time a missile came below the waist. Their sisters and female friends pedaled bikes, piloted skateboards and scooter-like contraptions that had yet to be invented when I was a kid. I wanted to yell out, “Cherish this moment” but like many charmed moments it is easier to recognize them in retrospect.
My mate and I, feeling stiff and slow moving, looked on in envy as the pack of progenies reveled in the immediate gratification of childhood. They moved like newly un-caged greyhounds while we adults puttered around our yards and enjoyed a perfect mountain afternoon.
With weather reminiscent of mid-winter, the 31 days of May passed as quickly as if we were all sitting in a dental chair. The urgency of the children’s play served as a reminder to us all of the fleetingness of summer and the need to make recreational hay while the sun shined. There was talk of sunset runs, bicycle rides, and barbecues and plans for summer getaways. I envied the freedom and possibilities of the young and recalled a more innocent and carefree time when I was that child fresh out of school. I was an indifferent student with the attention span of a hummingbird. I remember sprinting down the four steps of Eastondale School like an escaped prisoner.
Ellen and I had back-county skied earlier in the morning and returned home to work in the money-pit we call a garden. She planted flowers that would be dead in three months and I pulled weeds with roots deeper than Alex Hailey’s. We waved at our neighbors, who were likewise enjoying the quiet afternoon.
I felt like a subject in a Norman Rockwell drawing except one where all the characters had strong legs and sun tans. More than a few mothers pushing dump-trucked-sized strollers passed as did our favorite neighbor Mady (about 5 years old) who ‘played through’ our yard with a tiny plastic golf club and ball. She was dressed head to toe in pink and accessorized her ensemble with a pair of angle wings.
It was a day and situation that bespoke to all who chose to listen. Whatever your place or station, I think it was safe to say all of the participants–curtain climbers, young parents, and “DINKS” like my mate and me (Dual Income No Kids) would agree we were all blessed.
To see us all go about the business of doing little and enjoying it, you would never know that, a world away (and even in parts of this nation) peaceful play and idleness is a luxury not afforded to either children or adults. In much of the world the most children can hope for is survival.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone how good we have it. A buddy of mine just came back from the Sudan where suffering is a way of life and the most many can hope for is a day without maiming. But you needn’t look farther than America’s inner cities to find a culture of hopelessness. Now granted, at least in this country, there is a way out for those with the wherewithal but to say the playing field is level would be a lie.
As I watched the children roam and run like antelope on the first night of their summer vacation, I flashed on the fact, in some parts of the world, children their age and younger are often classified as “collateral damage.”
To them I was just some doddering old dude who sometimes joked with their parents and would occasionally fix their bicycles but other than that I was mostly invisible. As they passed by once again chatting about their summer dreams, video games and the school teachers they had recently escaped, I wanted to tell them how good they had it, how blessed they were. But that would simply ruin the moment; they will learn about the rest of the world soon enough.
In the meantime the worst from life they could fear, in the not too distant future, would be another bout of May-like weather or a plastic puck to the groin. Personally I’d prefer the rain……….
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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