A Precious Time

It’s like this in the summer; they just want to be outside enjoying the long warm evenings, playing with their friends, being children. And we want them to be outside, soaking up health-giving sunshine, burning off excess energy, learning social skills, being children. It’s a wonderful time for them and a wonderful time for us, the parents. We watch them develop and grow, safe, healthy and happy. Children.

“C’mon,” I call out. “Time to come in. Nearly nine o’clock.”

“Aw, mum,” a voice floats across. “It’s still too early. Five more minutes. Pullease! And it’s my turn to bat.”

I smile to myself. “Five more and then home!” I throw my voice across the pond, the freshly cut grass and the wild flowers, past the swings and the seesaw and the climbing frame, to the far end of the park where they are playing. A small figure waves a thank-you.

Whenever I need to set limits or invoke the rules or reprimand, I think back to long ago and how our parents responded to the young us, our behavior, our demands, and I think how right they got it. And hopefully I respond as they did. Hopefully I nurture as they did. Hopefully I love as they did.

It’s a precious time, childhood. It slips away far too soon. And so our rules are flexible. They need to be. And so we sometimes ignore the need for perfect table manners – elbows on the table never hurt anyone. As for speaking with one’s mouth full – well, children have a need to eat and a need to speak and sometimes these two hit them at the same time. And we want them to eat and we want them to speak. So, no problem. And we try not to get too fussed when it comes to personal hygiene – a bit of dirt isn’t dangerous. In fact it helps build up resistance. No need for a daily blood bath. Nothing that a quick wipe behind the ears can’t fix.

And so, yes, another five minutes. Of course. Of course.

And I sit smiling, listening to the distant shouting and laughter and the glorious sound of leather on willow. Bliss.

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12 Responses to A Precious Time

  1. Patrick says:

    Thanks, Elaine. See my reply to Sarah Logan above. So well observed.

  2. Elaine McKay says:

    ‘I throw my voice…..’ is a wonderful description. I think this is a well written piece and I want to like how happy it is, but I would have liked a darker layer. The narrator seems naive. However, I think that must just be something about me! Lovely prose.

  3. Patrick says:

    Thanks. Pleased you liked it.

  4. kiwirebecca says:

    This is lovely.
    I really enjoyed: ‘children have a need to eat and a need to speak and sometimes these two hit them at the same time’
    Each word flows off the other with ease, and I glided through the story without being tripped up once. Brilliantly done.

  5. This is such a lovely piece, brimming with nostalgia. Not having yet been a parent, I identified most with the kids, stretching out a summer evening for as long as posible. I was worried towards the end that it was too nice, that something had to go wrong, but I’m glad that it didn’t. It forms a gentle moment in time, which is more poignant for being so transitory; as Elaine pointed out, soon come teenage years and all the fun that brings.

    • Patrick says:

      Hi Sarah, It actually bombed out. It was to be sinister with blood bath reading as bathing in blood. I had originally included a phrase about the alternative to the blood bath being a quick wash in a basin of warm blood to reinforce this, but on reading the piece a few times I felt it was overkill. As it turns out, it’s underkill.
      But great if readers enjoyed it as they saw it. I expect that’s why writers use editors. A lesson learnt. Perhaps I’ll do some rephrasing at some point.

  6. kathy vollmer says:

    I loved this! So peaceful and full of love. Brings to mind my too~strict upbringing though. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  7. This piece calls to mind memories from my own tomfoolery in the neighborhood: cops and robbers; riding bikes; fireworks. But no thought back to these times can avoid baseball. The sound of a fastball hitting leather is something you don’t forget.

  8. Elaine Peters says:

    Sweet and quite profound. Nostalgic for one’s parents and at a good place with one’s own parenting. I do like the image of the freshly cut grass and the wild flowers, sounds like an idyllic moment in time. (Enjoy – we know it all changes when they become teenagers!)

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