Four babies in a tent in a sun-kissed slumber.
The rain pelts on the pitched tent as the sun meets the sky’s horizon. It’s 5:30am, and as they sleep, I keep watch.
The ground rumbles and the sky lets out a flashy crack, but still, the two two year olds, my Millie and my niece, each rest in an armpit of mine on the collapsing air mattress. The two five year olds have sprawled their bones half on and half off their mattress horizontally, their heads resting on the crunchy tent floor.
I listen to the rhythmic cadence of their four individual breaths, one more wheezy, one gruffer than the next. They are in their deepest of slumber.
Their heaving chests ignore the heaving tent, shaking as the gusts sweep up and push the walls of the tents against our elbows, and still, ten minutes into the storm, they remain asleep, in due, perhaps, to the day that was before.
Perhaps their uninterrupted slumber is due to their endless hours of running in the sweaty summer heat playing rhythmic gymnastics with rainbow coloured ribbons in their underwear. Or maybe the exhaustion is thanks to the five year olds’ achievement of having together, the night before, taken their very first independant strokes in the swimming pool. There was also the blowing and spilling of entire bottles of bubbles, and the cartwheels and summersaults. And one hour turned to two, as we sat crosslegged on the grass making s’mores, each taking their turn to char the nuggets of sugar, then rubbing those nuggets into, and onto, their licking lips.
For awhile we took turns sipping water straight from the faucet, and I clapped as I watched each perform “flip-mos” on the air mattress to song.
And I wondered if this was as close to bliss as there was. Of having genuine happiness.
Like now, I watched in awe of them. Of how their creative hearts were open to the sultry summer air. Of how their creativity took over their usual boredom with reckless abandon. Of how they never asked for or missed their shows even once.
They even ate their food, or whatever I managed to rummage together that was prepackaged in a box.
They giggled and they laughed so hard their sides hurt. Each big cousin was quick to pick up their little cousin when she forgot her sandals for crossing the ouchy gravel roads.
They were cousins at play, joining alongside our best of friends and neighbours. They were all so very free- and truth be told, so was I.
We had no agenda except to soak in the sun, and then, when that was done, to collapse and dream under the night sky- and so they did. Except here I was, with my only opportunity to rest, staring at their dirt-encrusted bodies, taking up so much more space than four children ought to, stuffing me in without the remote possibility of seeking out a blanket even if I had wanted to.
Luckily for me, there had been the gift of warmth from the summer sun.
And so I smile at them. Glow sticks donning their ankles, sunscreen stuck to the wisps of their hair, greyed marshmallow guck adorning the backs of their still pudgy fingers.
The red din of the tent is highlighting their cheeks, the two year old girls’ still more full than the sunken fives’, their innocence on full display.
Contentedly sun-kissed, unapologetically blissed.
These are the babes of summer. These are my sunshine girls- the rain will surely pass.