A Blog Series
By Liz Easterly
Stapleton resident and creator of StapletonMoms.com
My favorite sound of summer is the sound of our screen door slamming shut over and over as all the kids on our block run in and out of the house – the spring broken from overuse and dirty footprints in the hall.
I hear them rummaging through the pantry for snack food. Little feet run up and down the stairs as they dress for battle. They are a ragtag bunch: wearing camo and plastic army helmets, carrying bright yellow Nerf guns with soft foam bullets. Out the back door they disappear.
They’ve got toys we only dreamed about when we were kids: The twins two doors down have two life-size, electric jeeps that whir around the block, carrying three kids in each. They’re headed to the park down the street to battle the boys from the next block.
A few moments of quiet. With toys littering the floor and all of the throw pillows thrown onto the floor, I’ll never have an impeccably decorated house like you see in the model homes; and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are times when entire rooms are overtaken by hundreds of small army men and rendered unusable.
The entire Allied army took over our backyard to recreate D-Day, thanks to my husband letting them watch old army movies from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The German army hunkered down on the steps, and the lawn became the ocean. Transport boats were built out of Legos and old shoe boxes; the boys even found red food coloring to make the water in the plastic pool bloody as the battle raged on.
The back gate slams open. They’re back. I hear the hose turn on and the sergeant’s orders: Clean up that mud! Screams and laughter as they leave a muddy mess on the back porch.
There is no sleeping in during a weekend on our block. The kids are up and at ’em early, and they’re out yelling from dawn to dusk – with a few breaks to play Wii on huge HD TVs or play in the jumpy castle our neighbors have set up in their basement.
If it sounds like the idyllic image of childhood, where kids were outside playing all summer, unattended and free like hundreds of little Huckleberry Finns, I can tell you … it is. With the exception that today’s kids have better toys (hello, electric jeeps) and they are watched constantly by all the parents on the block – we do live in the city, after all. The woods have been replaced by alleys – but that’s the funny thing about imagination: It makes do.