Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Puddle Stomping

With temperatures climbing up into the mid-40s, I went with the kids and our friends R. and R. to Fort Greene Park today, to seek out some good slush, puddles, and mud.

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.


Izzy's Mama said...

Izzy and I have been puddle jumping since he could walk. Everyone in the park near my home would always smile at the sight of him in his tiny raincoat and boots, not yet a hear old. We were and still are the only ones out splashing in stormy weather.

Unknown said...

thanks for this great blog. I've been looking at preschools for my 19 month old...because I hate myself? because I have 80K to spend on school BEFORE kindergarten? because...hmm. I appreciate being reassured that I can provide great activities for my kid w/o shipping him off to upper manhattan country city overprogrammed school for tots. you guys look like you're having a great time.

The Monkeys Mommy said...

I have just read through your blog a little and I must say... I am seriously amazed! I don't meet very many people who have the same philosophy on preschool... I get those same dirty looks from parents as I am standing there asking what the mud feels like or what happened when they jumped twice in a row. Dirt and mud clean up... those experiences are only available for a short time in childhood! What isn't to love about watching your child explore, learn, and discover all in the same moment?!