As I write this, the sun is staking its rightful claim on the season. I can feel it beating down on us, soaking everything in its path with a heavy, languorous warmth that cannot be shaken off.
The air is thick and still, refusing to let anything pass. The sky is a most perfect shade of azure. Without a doubt, summer is upon us.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a much-welcome breeze blows and, ever so slightly, cools my face. Despite the fact that it is nowhere near enough to cool us down, the break in the heat is enough to make me sigh in relief.
But soon enough, the heat settles back in, and I find myself thinking of summers past.
It is the sky and its endless stretch of blue. The sight of it brings to mind memories of distant oceans from my childhood. There is no white powder sand in my childhood memories, no hip restaurants and cafés selling refreshing shakes.
It is what it is—a small-town beach, unremarkable in appearance and with nonexistent facilities. But in the eyes of a child, it is a magical, wondrous world where the rushing wall of water rises and falls, bringing to the shore treasures from the great unknown beneath it.
Sharing in my joy of chasing after the retreating waves are my cousins. There is a whole army of us, or so it seems to an only child. In reality, there are only 11 of us, with more than half being too old to join in the revelry that only children can enjoy, so we are really just three.
But the three of us, squished in one big black salbabida, tiny specks floating and drifting back and forth, spend the whole day this way until we are called to shore to share in a fresh spread of seafood, usually simply grilled or barbequed to perfection.
We camp out beside makeshift tables and plastic chairs. Soft drinks are sipped from a plastic bag with a straw, and boy, does it hit the spot.
We eat more than we usually do because, as is usually the case, you never realize how tired or hungry you are when you are busy having fun.
The evenings are quiet. We have only the crickets in the background, which is the perfect soundtrack for ghost stories and ghost hunting in the nearby empty home of a lola who passed away a few years back. I remember her name but not how we were related, if we were related at all.
In one’s hometown, everyone is related, somehow.
My reverie is interrupted by a squeal of laughter. Oblivious to the heat are two children running into the house, red from the sun or from exertion, I cannot tell. They run to their baby brother and take turns hugging (more like squeezing), but he doesn’t seem to notice the extra pressure and basks in their attention, waving his tiny hands in the air as he giggles away.
Soon enough, the laughter of the two older ones turns into an argument but just as quickly, they settle their issue and return to sharing stories.
One is talking about her friends from school, while the younger child talks about all things reptilian. Clearly, they are not talking about the same thing but it seems neither one notices, or perhaps they do, but for some reason, allow each other to continue.
I turn my attention back to the work at hand. My article for this week is supposed to be all about summer and the many activities and ways to keep our little ones busy, to make the most of these two long, or short (depending how you look at it), months. But something inside me is simply not cooperating, and has instead brought me to a different place all together.
Is it the mark of wisdom when we realize that time is our biggest luxury? With the dawning of this knowledge, we get to work, filling every waking moment with meaningful, productive or memorable activities.
It is all about making every minute count and desperately holding on to time. Yet, it slips through our fingers and I wonder, where did it go?
Every week, I am surprised to realize that it is Sunday once again when I feel like it was just yesterday that I was picking out a dress for my daughter to wear to mass.
Meanwhile, my children continuously cheer on the end of each week and arrival of their favorite days. Eating, lazing around, laughing, arguing, swimming and sleeping. Days spent doing nothing. Precious time just thrown away.
They live their days as if they are the winners in the grand lottery of time, and they literally have all the time in the world. While I fret over time, chasing after it, savoring it bit by bit, like we do with luxury, they squander it all, without any second thoughts.
I want to shake my head in disapproval of this and fill their days with activities to keep their hands busy and their minds working, as I usually do, but today, something tells me to let them be, and I catch myself wondering, who is really the wise one here? They who revel in every minute they have, or the one who saves her time, always thinking of the future and desperately trying to fill up the present, which in reality, does not really need any filling up at all?
As I look back on my own summers, some filled with endless days of fun and sun, others with activities, I realize one thing about childhood summers, and childhood in general.
Each moment is memorable, whether or not anything is done, simply because it is from a magical time in the cycle of life. These are the days children gaze upon the world in wonder and awe and are genuinely surprised; where life constantly presents them opportunities to learn, without them necessarily having to be in a class.
But just like a child’s summer, this period of youthful innocence and protection from the pressures of life is fleeting. All too soon, it will come to pass, and their days will be filled with structure and purpose.
I pray they will still be as joyful and blessed as these golden summers of their youth. But should it not turn out as I hope it does, they will have these memories to look back on, carefree days when time stood still and life was theirs for the taking.
Hopefully, they will build a solid foundation of character on these simple days and carry the joy all throughout their lives, giving them strength to carry on when things become more complicated and challenging.
And so, with this in mind, I surrender to summer and my children’s childhood here. Too many times, I have told myself that there will be a time to enjoy the days together, but as we all know, the future is not a promise, and the day we look forward to may never come, or in other cases, may come too late.
We may not get anything done today, tomorrow or in the days to come, but one day, I will look back and realize that these days were well spent because I filled up their time with laughter and love.