When I picked Julia up on her last day of school back in June, I was excited. I’d had visions of a summer filled with swimming, suntans, picnics, lightning bug jars and trips to the zoo, the drive-in and the amusement park. But, we’ve done very little of that. We’ve been indoors too much for my taste and spent way too much time waiting for this so we can do that (and usually the that wasn’t anything very fun for the kids). I could blame it on our tight budget, but the truth is, our budget is always tight. We’ve made plenty of great summers happen right in our backyard without spending a dime. This year has been different. And I’ve been feeling guilty about the lack of summer-ness in our summer.
“Julia? Are you having a good summer?” I asked, picking at the wound.
She gave me a quick glance, “Yep.”
“Uh huh.” She didn’t even look up from her DS this time. “I got a DS for my birthday, didn’t I?” (After much deliberating and hand-wringing, by the grace of Grandma, she did.)
“We haven’t really done that much, though.”
“Yeah, but that’s kinda nice, I think. Anyway, I can ride my bike now,” she told me. “Mom, this has been the best summer.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Learning to ride her bike has been the highlight of Julia’s summer. And if you think back, one summer, it was probably the best part of yours.
I’ll never forget the year my training wheels came off. Oh, the freedom! I could go! FAST! And far! I’d pedal up to the dead end of our street. It felt so far away. I couldn’t see my house from there and I had to stand up and pedal to make it all the way. Then, I’d coast back home with my arms stretched out, the wind kissing my face and dancing through my hair. Well, at least until I got to the house with the big, white dog. Once I passed that, my mom could see me and she didn’t like it when I didn’t hold on to the handlebars.
Never again would a thrill so big come from something so simple.
The exhilaration of the ride and the pride in her mastery of the object is obvious when she pedals up past her play set and sails down toward the house trying each time to go faster. And I feel like maybe, after all, this summer has been pretty good.