Little Kid Summer State of Mind: IDGAF

Summertime is always the best of what might be. ― Charles Bowden

To begin, my kiddos would take great offense to the title of this post. At 6 and 4, they’re not accepting little kid status. But they are little, and most importantly, they’re my littles forever. Summer, like every season of motherhood, is exhausting. However, this type of exhaustion is welcomed and cherished because summer is where magic and mischief meet.

We had ourselves a summer to remember. We saw family, spent countless hours at the local pool, sat in boredom with bubbles, chalk, and popsicles, created classic camp experiences, and wandered in wonder. We kept it simple, withdrew from the world a little, and took time to recharge our familial battery, which had depleted somewhat due to Covid, but mostly from the relentless routine that is a school schedule.

On Monday we returned to the chaos of coordinated calendars, and while I wasn’t ready, I’m changed for the better because of my little kid summer state of mind.

I learned two very important things this summer. 1. Never forget to be wild and free. 2. Being vulnerable is brave. Childhood is a marvel for many reasons, but mostly it’s the “I don’t give a fuck” (sorry mom) mentality that I yearn for and celebrate.

My littlest little is wild and free. She does it her way on her own timeline. She’s a tiny teacher when it comes to pace and progress. Moreover, she doesn’t like to be confined to a box. I envy her bluntness and ability to explore the things not often appreciated or celebrated. Give her a big field and let her loose. She’ll wander for hours. Her CAS diagnosis has made her certain of and stubborn about her view of the world. She privately discusses fears yet publicly pushes through.

Our town pool requires a deep water test in order to wade into the deep end or savor the slides. Oh, and there’s also the diving board, which I’ve learned is a big deal for certain six year olds. It’s a test that requires demonstration of freestyle, the backstroke, and treading water for sixty seconds. My biggest little failed more times than I can count. Public failures. She cried in front of a 9 year old boy, wept in front of her daddy, and felt utterly embarrassed amongst her friends. But she kept taking the test, practicing her strokes and treading, and dreaming of a deep water wristlet. BOOM. It’s done. She passed. She had to publicly fail in order to privately understand the value of practice and perseverance.

These kiddos of mine haven’t had self-doubt dismantle them. They don’t shy away from a challenge. There’s no gossip amongst them or grandiose gestures of self-importance and pride. Why? They’re children.

Children come into this world innocent and inquisitive. They’re carefree. They posses a certain and special IDGAF approach to the world that cannot be duplicated. It’s because if we do our job right, we teach them how to GAF with empathy and kindness leading the way. But sometimes we chip away at the core of kid IDGAF with our own insecurities. Or even worse, sometimes we directly place our fears and phobias into their heads and hearts, robbing them of adventure and discovery.

I wish for me, you, and all adults really, the little kid IDGAF approach.

What if my public fear of failure didn’t stop me from trying? Maybe I need to wander without apologizing or justifying.

Whether it’s a speech disorder, swimming test, career choice, motherhood, or any other title or role, maybe I need to stop caring about how it looks and go with what I think feels best and right. Ah, summer. A season so fleeting and special, like childhood, that it teaches us to surrender and savor in the most sacred of ways.