This time of year always reminds me of verse in the Indigo Girls song Mystery
“I could go crazy on a night like tonight
Summer’s beginning to give up her fight
And every thought’s a possibility
And the voices are heard but nothing is seen
Why do you spend this time with me
Maybe an equal mystery?”
The days are hot and humid, but as the sun goes down there is a weakening in summers grasp. My favorite time of year is the time where summer and fall battle each other for dominance and summer owns the days but fall begins to take over the evenings. Yesterday was a hot one during the day, and the girls wanted so badly to go to the park because they didn’t get to play outside at school due to the heat. I was happy to honor this request and was pleasantly surprised when I was greeted with a cooler breeze instead of sticky humidity.
The dynamic of any park in the evenings is like a social experiment. There are times when we are the only ones at our park of choice for the evening and other times its like a school yard during recess. I find it interesting to watch my daughters interact with other kids who until that very moment are complete strangers to them. I love watching them navigate their expanding social development and try so very hard to hold back interfering with their interactions. Evie is just blossoming into the phase of “making friends” at the park and making up games as she goes. There are times when this leaves little sister out and while she used to be indifferent, now she is fully aware that her sister is choosing to play with someone else. Her little tears rip straight to my heart. I can usually console her by offering some one on one pushes on the swings or a game of chase up and down the slide, but I know that these distractions will only work temporarily.
We did have one thought provoking occurrence at the park last night that made me stop and think and I wanted to share my thoughts. Evie’s new park friend for the night, a little girl around her age, disappeared during their game for brief moment and then returned and they resumed racing up the ladder and down the tallest slide at the park. I noticed once the little girl returned that she kept messing with the waist band of her shorts. They were denim shorts so I thought maybe they kept getting twisted on the plastic of the slide, but after a couple more times down the slide I realized her pants weren’t buttoned and she kept re-zipping the shorts. She noticed me noticing her struggles at this time and said “I can’t button my shorts, I went potty and I don’t know how to get them buttoned again.” I looked around for her adult companion but couldn’t see one. I asked her if her mom was here, and she said “my dad’s in the car”. You can see almost the entire playground from the front section of the parking lot, but I still found it odd that she was out playing “alone”. The second thing that gave me pause is that I had to hesitate to help this little girl. Something so simple as snapping the button of shorts, an act which would have taken 5 seconds. I didn’t know this little girl nor did I know her dad who was in the car. What would he/could he think if he sees a strange woman touching his daughters shorts? What would have happened had this little girl asked someone who may have been at the park for not so innocent reasons? I’m pretty confident that when I was a child that no mother would have thought twice about helping me button the snap on my jean shorts at the park should I have needed the assistance, nor would my mother have thought twice about the possibility that someone would be hanging out at the park for sinister reasons. I took pause in the moment that I told the little girl she should go ask her dad for help. I thought about my daughters growing up in a world where I have to teach them there is evil in the world at a young age. Where the trusting nature of children has to be pulled back and instead replaced with constant skepticism. The days of playing anywhere around the neighborhood and coming home when the street lights came on are over. The days when parents didn’t need to know the exact GPS coordinates of their children at every given moment they are out of sight are past. It makes me sad to know that we live in a time where the fear of accusation or misunderstanding prohibits us from helping children. I will go so far to say that if the situation were reversed and Evie needed help with the snap on her shorts and I wasn’t there in that moment and another unknown adult had helped her, I would tell her not to ask strangers for help like that again and to always come find me or another adult she knows. The lack of trust in others and situations like this make me sad for the soul of our society, and I wish I knew what to do to change it.
I don’t want to end my post on a Debbie Downer note so I will end with some photos. I took this park outing as an opportunity to bring my camera along since just before sunset is my favorite time to shoot pictures of the girls. Sadly the cloud cover came and ruined my hopes for beautiful natural light. I did end up with a few that I wanted to share.
And in a turn of events that almost NEVER happens, I actually got some pictures of the girls WITH ME! Imagine that!
And the rarest picture of all….the three of us! Even though Nora wouldn’t look directly at the camera.
I hope you all enjoy these sacred days and nights of the blended perfection of summer and fall.