It poured on Tuesday. Starting just before 7am and lasting until after lunch the rain came down. Thankfully it cleared up in time to walk to school and snag the big boys.
I keep the twins in a stroller as we walk the few blocks to school because "two-year-old" means constantly wanting to run from mama and and two of them means they run in opposite directions. Stroller it is. Usually with a snack to keep them focused on staying in place instead of jumping out of their seat the moment we stop.
Mercedes tends to run ahead. She stops at every corner or alley to wait for permission to walk. I'm pretty sure it's one of the few rules she doesn't try to argue with us about. Running ahead on the school grounds she came to a puddle. A big puddle. I was at least 50 feet away from her and my first reaction is one I almost always have when the kids start in on a messy adventure, especially one when we are away from home.
"Mercedes! Are you jumping in the puddle?" I didn't scream or use an angry voice... because I didn't want other parents looking at me like I was some crazy woman. But I did yell loud enough for her to hear me.
She turned to face me and continued to jump and I saw the pure joy on her face. The exhilaration of causing the water to splash up and make her pants wet.
My first reaction faded. That feeling of... not necessarily frustration, but of something near frustration, dissipated. It's not like we have a rule about puddles. She wasn't doing anything wrong. She was enjoying a gift left from the rain and I almost ruined that.
I let the little boys out of the stroller and they joined her. All three of them stomped and jumped while we waited for their brothers to emerge from school. All three of them were soaked from the knees down. But they were happy! And what harm did it cause? None.
As if I needed the extra reminder that I was on the right track (although I probably did), as we prayed on Tuesday night Mercedes thanked God for the puddles and that she was able to jump in them. Melt my heart and stab it all at the same time. What a simple thing to be thankful for and yet what if I had stopped her?
I think of the number of times I deter the kids from doing something fun or messy because it isn't terribly convenient for me. I rush them along instead of admiring the flowers as we walk. I keep the playdoh put away until I really need to occupy them so I don't need to clean up all the bits left behind. I put off teaching them more kitchen skills because the kitchen is "my place."
But what good does that do them? It teaches them that what they find interesting and exciting is not interesting or exciting. That what they want is not important. And that is not the message I want to send to my kids!
So let them splash in the puddles. Keep a spare outfit in the car if the puddles are away from home.
Let them build the dirt mounds and make mud pies. Spray them down with the hose before coming inside or teach them how to clean up dirt off the walls ;)
And even if it's not your favorite thing in the world? Splash with them. Make a whole bakery filled with mud pastries. See the world through their eyes. Let them show you how incredible it really is. This is where the joy in the chaos can be found. It's not always a pretty sunrise or reading books with your toddler. Sometimes it's squishing mud through your fingers or watching a line of ants march across the sidewalk. It's slowing down to a pace that we often forget about as we get older.
Let's splash in the puddles.