Sunday, June 21, 2009

Girl suit

Yesterday was a perfect summer solstice day. It was warm and bright, with puffy white clouds. By midday, the sun had burned off the humidity from the heavy rains of the late afternoon and night before, leaving a clean, clear, sky-blue heat that called us out into the yard until evening.

In the morning, when the air was still thick, redolent of chorophyll and moist earth, we all went yard sale-ing. We came home with good loot, including plenty of outdoor toys for U: a toy sting ray that can be filled with water and squeezed to deliver a far-reaching stream; a ball tee that instantly transformed Don's cousin Neil's gift of a ball and bat into one of the most played-with toys in U's pantheon (instead of a source of frustration for U, because it's darn hard to hit a ball that's in the air!); a play fountain with changeable heads that express a variety of showers; a set of plastic horseshoes that we would much rather have 5-year-old U play with than our real, toe-breakable ones.

In no time, Ulysses was stripped down and jumping from wading pool to gooey sandbox to fountain or sprinkler or the newly rediscovered frog-shaped sprinkler from another yard sale outing years ago (he changed them out frequently over the course of the day).

Whenever he carried the frog to the hose end, he turned it over and pointed out the frog's four feet, telling me with excitement, "Frog prints. Look! There are the frog prints! Do you know about frog prints?"

It was hours before I realized he had reinterpreted the phrase Frog Prince.

* * *

"I need my baby suit," said Ulysses, and he ran inside to search for his swim trunks.

"Here's your bathing suit," I said, finding it in the lowest drawer of the high boy dresser Don restored years ago, in hopes of a child to give it to.

"Not bathing suit, Mama," he corrected. "Baby suit."

"Bathing suit," I repeated.

"Baby suit," he insisted. So I dropped it.

Later, when we were splashing together under the hot sun, Ulysses saw my clothes were starting to get wet. "Take off your clothes, Mama!" he shouted, gleefully.

"I can't take off my clothes out here; I'm a grownup."

He looked puzzled at this, then said, "Then go inside and put on your girl suit."