The necessity of splashing in puddles

My 5-year-old son and his 19-month-old sister couldn’t stand being inside the other day. (truth be told, I couldn’t stand them being inside, either) Temps have been getting a bit warmer lately – even though tonight’s overnight temp is expected to be in the single digits F – and I really can’t blame them for wanting to go outside.

The problem is, there’s not much to DO, this time of year. When we had tons of snow during the winter, it was usually so bitterly cold I didn’t dare bring them out for more than a few minutes. Now that temps have moderated, all we have is hard, frozen snow that will break your back if you fall on it and pathways of grassy mud.

Can’t play on the snow, can’t play in the mud.


But I dressed them in their snow pants and coats and boots and such and let them go outside, anyway, figuring they’d at least get some fresh air for a little while. They ended up (once again) teaching me a valuable lesson.

It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal

That’s a rule of thumb I learned back when I was first learning about promotions, particularly radio promotions. You can take the simplest, blandest concept and, with enough excitement and hype, turn it into a big deal.

In this case, the kids taught me that what I thought was a big deal…really wasn’t.

Kids being kids, they are adept at finding all sorts of things to play with that aren’t toys – sticks, stones, snow shovels – and the one thing little Babycakes discovered was a puddle on the edge of our dirt driveway.

To her, it was the most amazing, awesomest thing, ever.

And I almost killed her joy.

Letting go of “grown-up” mentality

Grey & Phoebe - puddleWe grown-ups really have a knack for putting the kibosh on our kids’ fun. It’s something I try to counter by using childlike perspective when I write…but actually putting it into practice isn’t always as easy as I’d like it to be.

You see, my first reaction was to tell her “no,” pick her up out of the puddle, and set her onto our gravel walkway. Which is what I did.

Grey & Phoebe - puddle 2Independent-minded little lady that she is, she immediately turned around and walked right back into the puddle, splashing her feet and flailing her arms in a chaotic, quasi-dance I can only describe as Fred-Astaire-meets-the-Ministry-of-Silly-Walks.

I was just about to tell her no again when I stopped myself. What was I doing? She had winter boots, snow pants, a coat, and mittens. Who cared if she splashed in the puddle???

It was fun, after all – there was no harm being done to anything or anyone – and I could think of no good reason to not let her have her fun.

If one gets to do it, they all have to do it

Her 5-year-old brother, upon seeing what was going on, had to jump in the fray. I watched the two of them, their faces lit up with smiles and love and streaks of wet earth – and couldn’t help but join in.

So there we were, on the edge of the driveway, splashing away…and I can only imagine what the folks driving past our house were thinking:

“Ridiculous waste of time.”

“Such silly, immature behaviour.”

“I wish I could do that.”

They soon tired of it, though, and moved on to other areas around the house – but I was glad I had the opportunity to splash in the mud with them. It got me thinking how often I, or even we as a society, make a big deal out of small things.

It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal

My son likes to play with kitchen utensils like the spatulas, whisks, and ladles. I once started to get upset with him because he was just making more dirty dishes for me – but then it occurred to me, who cares? Is it that big a deal? No.

My daughter doesn’t eat sandwiches like normal human beings (granted, she’s not yet 2), and instead prefers to separate each piece of bread and then eat them face-forward, like eating a pizza top-down, starting with the toppings and working your way down to the crust. I’ve attempted to stop her – but again, who cares? Is it that big a deal? No! Heck, at least she’s eating it.

And how many times have we stopped what we were doing to leave a comment on a Facebook wall or online news story, when we really didn’t need to? I’ve come to the realization that my opinion about most things doesn’t matter to anyone, so I’m not going to waste my time sharing it.

I’ve mentioned before here that, when you’re an adult, it’s difficult to not be a grown-up. But I’m trying. So I have to throw a few extra clothes in the washing machine, or load a few extra utensils in the dishwasher. None of it is a big deal, unless I make it a big deal.

Oh, and it look like the kids are finally asleep now. I need to go.

There’s a puddle outside with my name on it.

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7 thoughts on “The necessity of splashing in puddles

  1. Karen Eastlund

    Matt: The early childhood teacher in me can really relate to this story. I’m so glad you let your little ones stomp in puddles. How else will they learn about the world? My son once spent and afternoon with a friend, the two of them in boots and jackets, merrily stomping in a trench that ran behind our garage and drained our soggy yard. Afterward they were a mess, and the friend was afraid to let his mom see his clothes, so I washed and dried them before he went home. It was no big deal, and I think they must have had quite a good time or they would not have spent so much time there. Just think of the frustrations that can be swallowed by a puddle of mud, and the satisfaction of each squelch and spurt. Your kids are lucky that you know a good thing when you see it. Keep up the good work!


  2. Pingback: Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations: my contribution! | Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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