Ask any child: there’s an undeniable magic in jumping in puddles after it’s rained – the darker and deeper the better! There’s also an undeniable reason why this is universally forbidden by every mother on the planet.
The laughter-inducing, dancing joy it brings to a tiny person – this splashing around of brown droplets of muddy water – can never fully be appreciated by grown-ups: somewhere between childhood and teenage, the magic starts to fade and slip into oblivion. By age 40, the magic has completed its transformation… into a pile of laundry.
If puddles were secretly engineered at night to give out the absolutely biggest splashes possible when kids come to play, I wouldn’t be surprised. Somehow, these particular splashes, unlike all the other splashes that exist, manage to reach little kids’ hair, no matter if they were actually wearing beanies seamlessly taped on, and the dirt can even be found in their ears two weeks later, despite rigorous cleaning efforts.
As we all know, little boys were designed for wild fun and games, their pants eternally destined to have holes at the knees, and their appetites for cheese sandwiches and cookies never-ending. Another fact of life, as I remember my own childhood best friend stating wisely some 35 years ago, is that if you haven’t made a mess while eating, you haven’t enjoyed it.
These facts of life, very much like the fact that clouds always look like animals if you look long enough and that it’s impossible to grab keys from the bottom of a woman’s handbag even if she knows they’re there and can see, hear, and feel them, form an intriguing basis for examining the joys in creating a little bit of a mess.
What? You don’t believe me? Don’t tell me you’ve never as a full-grown person walked into a clothing store and enjoyed browsing, picking up this and that, trying something on in front of the mirror, discarding it, picking up something else, and finally walking out of the store whilst leaving chaos in your wake? “I don’t work here,” we justify to ourselves, and secretly smile.
Let’s admit it: we all have some form of mess we love, don’t we? Whether it’s a tossed salad or messy hairdo, sometimes it’s okay to shuffle those pieces around so they get mixed up. And sometimes it isn’t. It must be confusing for kids.
Personally, I have no recollection of whether I was a messy child or a tidy one, assuming tidy children even exist, but I do remember being nicknamed “Splashy Girl” by a French roommate when I was in my twenties. Apparently, as the story goes, I splashed water all over the floor while washing my face in the evening. Hubby also complains of this, but it’s probably just coincidence. All I see is a clean face! Bathrooms were made to handle water – in fact, I would even say it’s their destiny – so what’s the big deal?
If my secret delight is splashing drops of water on the floor, I certainly know what my kids’ is. I can almost hear it now: the thunderous sound of 2901 legos scattering all over the floor, cascading one after another in an increasingly quick wave, and always timed right after Hubby has finished saying, “Don’t pour the legos out of that box!”
Kids are great at spotting our weaknesses. Just to make sure, they repeat the action every evening to check they still get the desired reaction. It works like a charm.
The metamorphosis of magic into chores is complete.