Summertime fires are a'blazing

Ben: "Stop!"
Emma: "Stop yelling!"
Ben: "Stop!"
Emma: "Stop yelling!"
Ben: "Thanks a lot!"
Emma: "For what?"
Ben: "For what you did!"
Emma: "What did I do?"
Ben: "You don't know what you did? Stop!"
Emma: "Stop yelling at me!"

This is my life. Be jealous.

And to think, only 59 days until school starts.

You know what was absolutely brilliant of me? Taking on a massive project for a newspaper company that deadlines the second week of summer break. You know, the time when the children—who absolutely adored each other and the endless reprieve of summer days last week—realize that they actually annoy the crap of each other this week.

Soon we’ll float into the next phase of summer, wherein they unite against the oppressors in their life (me).

But I’m plugging through, holding firm to the glorious highlights so far … my youngest swimming his heart out in the community pool, my oldest breaking her record for pogo stick jumping, the fact that they can finally refill their own water guns.

And the knowledge that these summer meltdowns last about as long as a Popsicle in my 6-year-old’s sweaty grip.

(They’ve already moved on to lamenting the evils of reduced screen time. “It’s not fair!” What’s not fair about it? “The unfairness of it!”)

There is one part of summer that so fulfilling and restorative, rivaling even not setting the alarm clock each night. And that’s bedtime reading.

I’ve been reading “Walden (Or Life in the Woods)” to my 10-year-old each night. Because we’re not in the mad rush of schoolyear evenings, we’ve been luxuriating through Thoreau’s essays. I know much of the words go over my girl’s head, as they do mine.

But what clicks with her fills me up. Such as when she laughed aloud when I read: “I should not talk so much about myself if there any body else whom I knew as well.”

I love that she asked me to repeat three times, “The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.”

Yesterday’s essay spoke of what is necessary of life. Thoreau says the greatest necessity is to keep warm, “to keep the vital heat in us.” But we’re always after a bigger, better fire.

I’m keeping that in mind now, listening to today’s happy hour fight dissolve into laughter when my son admits he doesn’t really know what he wants his sister to stop doing.

I’m going to concentrate on the beauty of my fire—my children, at home, safe, healthy and strong; work that fulfills me; books that inspire me; love that surrounds me. It’s an awesome fire.