Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Boy's Life

When I first married my husband, he was really into softball. He was an outstanding player, who had guns for an arm, was fast as lightening, was awesome on the field, and could hit a home run just about each time he got up. He belonged to about 4 teams, and substituted on various others, so you can imagine how much of my free time I spent on a softball field!

And during twelve years of being an active softball groupie, I witnessed my share of softball moms care for their kids. You found all sorts. The kind that allowed their kids to run freely at the playground while they cheered their spouse; the kind that had uncontrolled kids roaming around the benches tossing balls that would randomly find their way onto the infield; the kind that allowed their kids to play in the woods among the poison ivy, snakes, etc.; the kind that encouraged their kids to play nicely in a group so no one got left out; the kind that allowed their kids to dig in the dirt, and many times, mud; and then, there was the random mom that always caught my attention ... the mom that refused to allow her kids to get one speck of dirt on them. You know -- the "mama's pretty boy" syndrome.

Of course, it never crossed my mind to judge these moms ... especially since I didn't have my own rug rat in tow, but I will say this ... every fiber in my body just craved to dump a bucket of mud or dirt on the neatly groomed child with the spit-shined face, the perfect hair, and the spotless clothes ... oh, and the clean finger nails. Did I mention those?

I'm sure that with my "uppity" upbringing, many may have thought that I would raise a "mama's pretty boy" if I ever had a boy... but not so. In fact, I always promised myself that I would never be one of those spit-shine moms, and that I would let my child savor the joys of playing in mud, dirt, puddles ... whatever ... and allow them the joys of growing up as kids ... not spotless dolls. So ... where am I going with this? Oh, yeah -- Sunday evening, we attended a neighborhood cookout. Yeah, talk about a curve ball, but hang in there with me...

It was fun. Really. If you consider near melting point heat, an unexpected torrential thunder storm with severe (severe = blew away the canopy and metal frame) winds and lightening, and about 30 people waiting out a 25-30 minute storm inside a sweltering garage (with a 20-month old... who simply as fun, well then, you really missed out.

A couple of moms with older kids tried to help me out, while another mom tried to make chocolate martinis for everyone. Did I mention Daddy got stuck at home? Across the street? And I was alone with said 20-month old until the vicious storm blew over? While all the adults were trying to get as drunk as they could, as fast as they could? I think it may have had something to do with Hunter, but I'm not sure. Rest assured, I don't partake of spirits, so sadly, I was as sober as possible for the entire garage-trapped 25 minutes.

Good times, I tell you. I don't know for the LIFE of me why my husband didn't risk his life and limb to come and rescue me of a bored 20-month old enjoy himself! I'm still working on forgiveness on that one!

Anyway, once the storm stopped, we all stepped RAN out of the garage and breathed in some fresh air, which thankfully, was about 20 degrees cooler. By this point, Hunter had escaped my grasp and made a bee line to the neighbor's tree. You know -- the one with the huge mud puddle in the dark, black soil under neath of it's lush green limbs. Yeah. That one. He was overjoyed.

Another neighbor's son (Cowen, who will be three in Dec) ran right after Hunter. Cowen's dad was right behind him saying, "Yucky, yucky Cowen ... don't get dirty!" At the same time, Hunter was gleefully jumping up and down and flopping himself all over the puddle.


Cowen stood close to Hunter watching sadly as if to say, "I sure would like to take a leap into that mud!" And, as I sat back in my white denim Capri's, and watched the joy on my sons face, I couldn't possibly muster the words in my mouth to tell him not to get dirty. I mean, isn't that a part of growing up? I'm sure you can imagine the strong urge I had to fight back to keep myself from jumping in that puddle hard enough to spray poor Cowen a little bit. You know ... for his daddy's sake.

I keep veering off on rabbit trails, don't I? Oh, yes ... the mud. It was so much fun to watch Hunter splishing and splashing in the mud puddle. In fact, it was just a small puddle on the surface, but a nice thick gooey black mud resided just below the water. Yes, he was covered in black mud (which, thankfully, came from the top soil the neighbors just put down to try to seed grass, otherwise, it would have been red, indelible clay). But he experienced pure joy during those brief 20 minutes that he got to splash around in the puddle for the very first time in his life. Don't worry -- he cleaned up nicely, but the outfit is still soaking!

Hopefully one day, he'll look back on his childhood and have fond memories of hot summers, cool showers, sprinklers, trees to climb, dogs to chase, bubbles to blow, mud pies to make, and mud puddles to splash in... Oh, to be a child again. To have that same, carefree, reckless abandon. To be able to enjoy the small things ... like mud ... and savor them like a rich, sweet pastry. Or worm ... however you look at it!

Ah, yes ... it is a good boys life to chase down puddles!


flipflop said...

2-3 nights out of the week (for softball of course) we come home and put our kids in the tub because they are covered from head to toe in dirt. They have a BLAST!

Gran - (Angela) said...

As your son reflects back upon his fun times in the mud and the splashing ... you to will always have this memory etched in my mind's eye and your heart. I love to read your posts. Have a wonderful day. Stop in for a visit at my blogs if you have a little free time.

Gran - (Angela) said...

sorry for the should read etched in your mind's eye and heart.

Jana (sidetrack'd) said...

Oh, the joys of mud; a little dirt never hurt anyone, and it washes off of skin nicely. The memories are much more valuable than the clothes!

Jen said...

good on you for allowing your son to play like that
I think its important for all children both boys and girls to get dirty, play with dolls and dress up if they want to.
I remember when I was learning to be a preschool teacher and on teaching practise there was a Chinese boy who wanted to play in the sandpit his mother wasnt keen at all!!
I appeased her while she was there but as soon as she left boy did we have fun :)

Sandy said...

It takes a good Mom to understand a boy.
Great post. Love the way you write.
Speaking of parenting .. come on over and see Paul's new book!
For Reluctant Entertainers

Tara said...

Good Job Mamma! God made dirt and dirt don't hurt! We're moving out to 5 acres in a couple weeks (most likely). Part of me is dreading the impossible laundry, but part of me is glad the boys will be able to run and dig in the dirt! And the girl too of course. Just after a torrential rainstorm last week I was out in the puddles with my boys. We had a blast!