I’ll have the hose water special, please.
On Thursday, my son came home from his last day of kindergarten with a backpack full of art projects, worksheets, and flashcards of word lists and math facts to practice over the summer. He shook out his bag upside down and scraps from the year cascaded to the table: a used bandaid, a paperclip chain, a pulverized Natures Valley granola bar, a rock covered in glitter paint.
If I was a more sentimental mom, I might have gathered and cataloged these treasures, looking ahead to a time when my son has long moved on from our house and I sit in the evenings, caressing the glitter rock and missing these days. I’m not though, so I sweep everything — even the flashcards — into the trash and we decide to go out for ice cream.
The next day, our first day of summer vacation, the moms of two of Chapman’s classmates texted me to schedule a time to get together. It was a rare free day, so I invited both boys over immediately.
Minutes later, our yard was buzzing with the energy of three post-kindergarten boys, flitting around like hummingbirds. They moved from bike riding to skateboarding to jumping on the trampoline, all the while falling down, giggling, and getting dirty as if kindergarten, and their days of sitting, writing, waiting, and listening to their teacher had never happened.
A few years ago, my mom got my son a metal tea party set for Christmas. It is silver, and it includes cups, saucers, plates, a teapot, spoons, and a container for cream and sugar. In one of the trips through our basement, the boys noticed it and decided to have a tea party.
I sliced an apple and delivered it to them in the yard. One boy filled the teapot with hose water and another picked flowers and sprinkled them on each plate. They spread everything out on a scrap of plywood and were still for a minute, maybe contemplating how to proceed, since tea-party etiquette has long been cut from the public school curriculum.
I hung around, a little envious of how effortless they were in their social interactions and how easy it was for them to have fun. They weren’t worried about offending each other or bringing up any sensitive topics. They talked with their mouths full of apple chunks and…