With July looming before me, I walked past the flag display at the store a half dozen times before I caved. Look, Mommy, it’s a flag! my little guy said over and over. I looked at his eager face and thought of the parade we would attend for Independence Day.

With July looming before me, I walked past the flag display at the store a half dozen times before I caved.

Look, Mommy, it’s a flag! my little guy said over and over. I looked at his eager face and thought of the parade we would attend for Independence Day.

Finally, I pushed aside all thoughts of someone getting their eye poked out with the sharp end of the flagpole, and handed over a dollar. Perhaps I would regret this, but we were going to be patriotic, darn it.

And so my kids waved their flags gleefully, their first rite of passage into celebrating the Fourth of July in style. They routinely sleep through fireworks and cover their ears at parades, but flag-waving is something they can do.

While the patriotism of the Fourth is clearly the most important aspect of the holiday, the sheer essence of summer that comes through on this day is undoubtedly the best. Its all about grilling out and picnics, corn on the cob and juicy watermelon.

Even though its just barely the start of summer, the Fourth is considered a halfway mark of sorts five weeks into the summer school break and only about five weeks left to go. It tends to set off a panic in people who feel their summers slipping away.

Of course, every kid loves summer: There is no school, so you can swim all day and stay up late. It’s the season of popsicles and ice cream trucks. But once I left school, summer lost its thrill for me. It meant that if I was dressed appropriately for air conditioning, I would get hot and sweaty just walking to my car. It meant that if I accidentally left a chocolate bar in my car, I would have the mother of all messes when I returned.

Basically, I turned into a summertime Scrooge.

But then I had kids, and the magic of summer returned full-force. Now it’s a season for fun new experiences and special places to go. Your road trip never gets canceled because of a snowstorm. You can always go out for a walk. You can turn an everyday lunch into a fun picnic just by walking outside.

I began to realize how much I’ve missed summer the way your skin still smells like coconut and chlorine, long after you’ve left the pool. there’s the distant boom of fireworks while you lay in bed at night and the sticky fingers that come from eating a score beside a fire.

The best part about living in the Midwest is that we get four distinct seasons. This Fourth of July, I plan to soak in the wonder of this season instead of pining for the next. I’ll cheerfully smack those mosquitoes while the fireworks dance and roast another marshmallow without a single thought of the extra calories it brings. I’ll smile at every conversation that starts with, “Can you believe it’s the Fourth of July already?” I’ll wave my flag with the vigor of a tot taking in his first parade.

Because this summer mosquitoes and all is a gift. And I am going to open it.

Contact Elizabeth Davies at edavies@rrstar.com.