Today was the first day it felt like summertime. It even smelled like summertime, a mixture of cut grass and dirt and chlorine. I sat by the edge of the pool, curled into a plastic chair, holding my book open, but my eyes were fastened on the sleek body of my almost 5-year old daughter as she jumped into the pool. She’d bob out of the water, wipe her eyes, smooth back her hair and pull her ears, then climb from the pool without using the stairs.
She’s beautiful but completely unselfconscious, at that perfect age when competence and achievement have not yet met with self-doubt and failure. She pinches her nose closed, dunks her head and kicks her legs in perfect rhythm, reaches with one arm for the edge of the pool. When she clears the water from her face, she looks to me for approval and says, “Did you see that?” She is proud of herself. She is entirely in the moment.
I wonder if song lyrics dance in her head or if she hears just the rush of water and the patter of the other children? She has no soundtrack in her head that says, “Be careful!” or “Do I look fat in this outfit?” The sun warms her tan shoulders and the only thing she worries about if whether she might jump on someone. So, she stands and watches and waits patiently for her turn and then: SPLASH! “Did you see that?” she says.
I grin and give her the thumbs-up signal.
This is the last summer of her fourth year. The only summer of her fourth year. She is so beautiful and she has no idea. And I am trying not to forget.