A few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend and his two young daughters. While my friend was busy in the kitchen cooking dinner, the nine-year-old said to me, “Want to see me do a handstand?”
We ran outside, where she did handstand after handstand, yelling each time, “Did you see that?” Her sister followed with impressive backflips, and then we all did cartwheels on the lawn.
It was a warm evening, and flowers were opening on the trees in the neighborhood. We sat on the stairs to the apartment building and talked about a school project that Handstand Girl was working on. “I’m going to make little figures out of wax,” she explained. She was so pleased with her idea that she got up and danced around the lawn in happiness, her silky hair flying in all directions.
I felt transported back to the summers of my own childhood, where we spent every evening outside, playing kickball or tag or simply showing off with cartwheels and summersaults.
We traced our names in the yellow pollen that had spread a film over their father’s car, we talked about what we’d use to make hair on little wax figures, and we danced to a song that I’d never heard of. It was nice, for a short time, to remember what the world is like when the evenings are long, time is for playing, and the only thing you have to worry about is how soon your parent will call you in for supper.