The day ends with play.

The children are hard at play in the backyard which, fortunately, got fenced in last year. Max is in his underwear while Micah is running around naked as a jaybird, her diaper and clothing long ago deemed too cumbersome for this game. What game? Why, the game of making mud puddles with the hose and then painting their bodies with mud before jumping into the baby pool to “wash off”. Then back to the mud. The munchkins are playing piglets today, and they are playing happily together while Milla steals a nap. What more could a mother desire? I wish I could post photos, but some moments are better left private.

In the mornings, Max has been learning journalism and poetry at the Summer Enrichment Workshop sponsored by the University of Alabama. He decided he wants to be “an editor” but also “a farmer and a doctor” so he’ll “have to choose which days to do what”. Meanwhile, Micah has been attending the Little Princess Ballet Camp at The Dance Centre. She is coming out of her shell enough to dance and prance, and she doesn’t seem to mind that, while all the other little princesses are dressed as a different princess every day, little Micah wears the same pink tutu and ballet shoes. It’s so lovely to watch her slither carefully out of my arms and into this beautiful world. Such a joy to hear her babble about how much she likes her teacher and how she “jumped” and “did ballet”.

During this time, I’ve been volunteering with a pilot project, the Summer Food and Fun Program, over at the McDonald Hughes Community Center near the McKenzie Court Housing Projects. Since they didn’t have a creative writing teacher, I fell into that role. The students range in ages from 12 to 18, and I am falling in love with them. Today, I had more than 30 students in our tiny, little room.

Though some are a little defensive and require me to earn their trust, I respect that and thrive on nurturing their creativity towards writing. Today we talked about Count Dracula and my Romanian roots in the context of “showing, not telling” as a craft exercise (kudos to Matt Anderson, who inspired me). I shared an oil portrait of Dracula and asked them to describe how scary he looked without using the word “scary”. I’m surprised, impressed, and excited about the creativity and thoughtfulness in these students and hope that they walk away from this summer with a thirst for writing that nothing can quite sate.