THE SIMPLE LIFE: Built for Laughter
Final week of August. Can you believe that private swimming pools are still open? Mine is crystal clear, with a water temperature of 84°. This has not happened since 2011.It's amazing, and I'm enjoying every single minute.
Earlier this week, after the first day of school, I had 11 people in my backyard pool - kids ranging from first grade through fifth grade, plus a few adults. Why is this special? Well, let me tell you.
This house where I now live is also the home my family built in 1969, and where I lived my life from age 11 until I got married and moved out. When I was a young teenager, Baughman Street White House was a favorite gathering place for games, whether it was kickball out front of the house, or a good old-fashioned neighborhood water battle.
Kids came from all over Marsh Addition, Green's Addition, Central Avenue, Roosevelt Street and McKinley Street to play kickball. We set up the game with a section of the curb for first base, a piece of cardboard for second place, and a fire hydrant for third base. Out of bounds was the Greaves' or Williams' family yards, and a home run was past the telephone pole. If you loved kickball, our house was THE PLACE.
Before each game, captains were selected, and each captain picked players by alternating turns - until every player was on a team. It didn't matter how old you were; everyone played.
The water battles were wild and crazy, and contrary to my mother's objections, everyone loaded up their water guns, balloons, squirt guns and other "weapons" at the Cavins’ backyard hose. The battle was street-long, and involved many neighboring yards - although we didn't dare go in the Greaves' yard. That was off limits, as Mrs. Greaves had many beautiful flowers planted, and she did not like balls going into her yard at all.
Being a popular house with lots of kids around was nice because we were new to the neighborhood. We all made great friends. Memories for a lifetime.
Now, how does that relate to the after-school pool party? Well, as I was watching these kids splash around in the pool, I was reminded of my first years here at this house when I was just a little older than them.
There was no swimming pool back in those days, but there were always kids here. In the later years, there were grandchildren and great-grandchildren who spent time with my mom and dad here. Playing, running, doing gymnastics, swinging on and climbing trees, rolling down the bank in the backyard, working with Granddaddy in the garden, sitting in the backyard with Mema in the baby pool.
Memories just flooded back! The temperature was mid-90s, sun was incredibly scorching, and snacks, pizza and beverages were abound! These kids had the best day!
Not only did they swim, they also danced to their favorite music - courtesy of Alexa. There were kids doing cartwheels, round-offs, walk-overs, handstands. This reminded me of the hours and hours I spent in my yard practicing the very same things (ummmmmm, 50 years ago. Gulp). Hours and hours trying to perfect my cheers, splits and jumps for cheerleading in seventh and eighth grade. I thought I was the cat's meow, if I recall correctly. Every Saturday, putting on my uniform, gathering up my pompoms, and walking to Bruce to cheer for my team - some of my best memories.
At the party, there was one little girl with the most creative, intelligent mind. She designated herself as the party's mixologist - making interesting beverages using different types of soda. She thanked me for the snacks because "now, I can create my very own mini bar!" She was so much fun! So smart, so endearing, so proud of the concoctions named "Amethyst Pop" (Sarah's favorite), "Party Pop" (my favorite), and several others. She wanted me to make sure to tell her mother when she came to pick her up.
I also spilled a secret to Olivia, our mixologist, about her mother. It was an awesome moment. I told Olivia that when her mother was just a little older than Olivia, her mom was a cheerleader and a captain on my cheerleading squad. I was a cheer advisor for six years, and her mother is remembered as one of my very best cheerleaders. Do you know what she said next? "Oh, my mother is SO far away from ever being a cheerleader. You do NOT know my mother!!! You, however, look like a cheer advisor. Well, a retired one!" This girl made me laugh so hard!
This was the same beautiful little girl who told me to "never, ever tell my mother that I was dancing today!" No worries, Olivia. I won't tell...shhhhhhhhhh. Olivia was a little shy at first, but she just blossomed at the party - joining the other girls dancing, showing her karate moves and encouraging others to sample her special drinks. I made sure to encourage her sparkling, interesting personality. She's so much like her mother at that age.
It was quite special to see kids racing down the bank, dancing in the grass, sitting in little groups with their phones, and just having simple backyard fun. Watching kids who really didn't know each other get along so well, it brought a lot of joy to my day. I was so grateful to have friends for my granddaughters to play with - especially for Aubree, who just started school at Westernport Elementary in the fifth grade.
When the party ended, there were tears from a few children who didn't want it to end. I promised everyone if this weather continues, we will do another party. The weather looks quite promising until the third week in September, and as long as overnight temperatures don't get down in the 50s, and days are hot, I'll keep the pool open.
Campfires are also on my nighttime agenda coming soon, so on non-school nights, we'll do those campfires with roasted marshmallows, hot dogs, sparklers and campfire songs.
This house was built for the laughter of children. I can't imagine a life here without that energy and the simple things that make me happy.
God's blessings, everyone. Thanks for reading.