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The Signs of Summer


When I was just a boy in Pennsylvania, I looked for certain familiar signs that foretold the arrival of summer: a robin in the yard, green shoots pushing through the soil, the swirling ceiling fan in my bedroom...(By the way, all those things do is move the hot air rapidly around the room, essentially converting your home into a giant convection oven).

Now that I'm a parent, I notice the change in season by other means.

The first sign of summer, parent-style, arrived while I was at work last week. My phone rang. I heard my wife’s voice on the line and, behind that, a sound that I couldn't quite identify. It was far away, but steady.

"Hello," I said.

"Your daughter needs you," my wife said.

"Okay," I said. There was a momentary rustling on the other end, and the unusual sound suddenly grew louder. By the time Grace spoke, I recognized it as her own wailing.

"Daddy?" she said, catching her breath.

"Yes, honey? What's the matter?"

"There was a fly in the house." She was on the edge of hysterics. Before I could ask her another question, I heard my wife in the background: "You got stung by a bee, honey."

"I got stung by a bee! WAAAAAA!"

First bee sting. Check.

*       *       *

Grace has ballet class on Thursday mornings. The lesson begins at 10:15. William, being cruel and vindictive, has trained his body to make a poop at 10:16...on Thursdays only. Every other day it's right after breakfast. Two-years-old and he's already tormenting Daddy.

I usually change him in the bathroom at the studio and put the used dipe in my diaper bag, wrapped in plastic. I then stick the lot in the car. This past Thursday it actually hit 80 degrees by the time ballet was over. Not yet accustomed to the warm weather, I had left the windows up in my eastern-facing car, which is painted a heat-retaining black...with the diaper bag baking inside for 45 minutes.

First stinky car. Check. 

*       *       *

"What happened to this shirt?" my wife demanded. She was getting William up from a nap.

"Oh," I said. "He got a little dirty this afternoon."

"It's brand new!"

"Yeah. He was kind of rubbing dirt into himself..."


"...then he spilled orange juice."

"Just give me the stain stick and Oxy Clean."

First article of clothing ruined by filth and filth alone. Check.

*       *       *

There are other signs, of course, like a house full of sand, the ever-present smell of sun block, the hot juice boxes in the back of the car that no one bothered to take inside and refrigerate...but the signs that came last week —those are the three real biggies.

Welcome, summer.