By: Shannon Ralph
There are many things that have become synonymous with summertime in my mind. Orange popsicles dripping on bare toes. Water sprinklers. Fresh tomatoes. Sparklers. Hot sand between tiny toes. Splashing around in the lake. Watermelon. Sunscreen. The smell of freshly cut grass. Cold beer. Barbecues. Picnic blankets.
These are all the joys of our entirely-too-short Midwestern summer that I relish. However, there is nothing that epitomizes summer to me more than simple nakedness. Yes, shear buck nakedness. I recently had an impromptu summer party at my house with some friends and their kids. The kids had an amazing time running around the back yard —screaming their little heads off, riding bikes and trikes, and chasing one another. At some point during the evening, shirts started to come off. The children, not the adults, of course. By the end of the night, all of the kids, boys and girls, had taken their shirts off and were enjoying the warm summer air on their skin. Watching them run around topless, I was struck by how free and jubilant they looked. Our winter-weary children enjoying a hot summer night. It was well past their bedtimes, but no one seemed to care. In Minnesota, the kids spend much of the year cooped up in the house. It’s really quite unfair that they have so little time to be free and naked and joyously juvenile. They are different children in the summer. They run. They play. They laugh. They squeal. They fall into bed exhausted and smelling of sweat, but grinning from ear to ear. Dreaming of sand castles and ice cream cones.
As far as I am concerned, bedtime can take a flying leap in the summertime. I am going to let my kids be kids and soak up every drop of vitamin D they can get while the getting is good. The day is quickly approaching when the sun will disappear over the horizon entirely too early in the day, and our kids will be bundled up in coats and hats and gloves and scarves and boots. Not an inch of precious skin exposed to the elements. So for the time being, let them run naked. Let the sun drench their little bodies with warmth.
If it were not for the threat of arrest, I would be right out there with them.