They wear their scars like badges of courage. Fitting.
They're growing up so fast, learning how to deal with the ups and downs that life tosses their way. Scraped knees and elbows are a part of their life, little injuries that happen when they come up against their limits. But they keep pushing, keep growing.
Kids growing up in the tornado alley suburbs where big trees aren't readily found. They've done their share of climbing trees here and there, dangling from low branches in the park, at a friend's house, in the neighborhood. But it's never enough.
The moments spent climbing in the trees are more than just that. These moments represent pushing boundaries, stretching limits. So important to their growth, stretching the limits of what's possible, understanding that the limits of their abilities are just out of reach, something to strive for and not something to hold them back. This for me is the best part of childhood. In lives becoming filled with deadlines and pressure, test-taking and boundaries, trees are simple. Trees give an escape. In the trees, there are no math tests. No responsibilities. Trees are a refuge.
They hold these little stolen moments dear. Memories cherished in their hearts that echo the memories I have of growing up, playing in the dirt and climbing trees. It calls to me, like a drumbeat in my blood, seeing my kids playing as I played in a simpler time.
I hear them talk about these trees and the moments they spent claiming them in the name of childhood. The tree down the street that offers sturdy, low branches with easy access. A willow that secrets them on a summer day amid its thick and waving branches.
And now, they've noticed our own trees, those little saplings featured in the background of each year's back to school pictures, are growing, just like they are. Reaching up to the sky, planting strong roots in the ground. The branches spread out like benevolent arms to cradle them. And up they go. Testing their strength against the branches, challenging their fear and going higher and higher.
I know I should tell them to get down. That they could damage the tree or damage themselves. But I can't. I'm thrilled.
The drumbeat echoes in my blood and just for a second, I want to switch places with them and escape into the trees myself.