The kids, of course, had a marvelous time. The day was warm, the puddles were big, there were lots of sticks around to drag through the mud.
Most of us have happy childhood memories of doing just this sort of thing: delighting in the mucky pleasures of early springtime, splashing joyfully in backed-up gutters after a heavy summer rain, floating homemade boats down some random drainage ditch.
Maybe it's just because I live in New York City, but in all the time I've spent out splashing with my kids in the nearly two years since they learned to walk, I have never -- never -- seen another parent doing the same. Adults unaccompanied by small children are always stopping to share stories of their own childhood puddle stomping; parents accompanied by small children, however, nearly always hurry past, giving me a dirty look while they fend off requests from their kids to join in my muddy little monsters' fun.
What gives? Playing in puddles and mud and muck is one of the inalienable rights of childhood. It clearly satisfies some deep need to connect with the watery world; it's an activity in which small children invariably lose themselves, finding a kind of peace and joy that we should foster. It should be on every parent's spring to-do list.
Two words: Wool socks! Wool keeps you warmer when wet than any other substance. (Wet cotton sucks heat away from the body, a fine trait in summertime but really bad in cool-to-cold weather.) Unfortunately, it's not that easy to find wool socks in wee sizes, and they can be pricey, but I think it's well worth the expense. Try a Google or Froogle search for "toddler wool socks."
Mud by Mary Lynn Ray
A kid-pleasing ode to the "gooey, gloppy, mucky, magnificent mud" of early springtime.