We live in the midwest. We had a big storm yesterday, one that started off as rain, switched to snow and hail, and eventually became rain again. All throughout, we experienced thunder and lightning. Honestly, I thought it was spectacular! I love a good thunderstorm, though usually it takes place in the summer. I love watching the earth swell with water, filling as it opens for the miraculous birth of new plants, new life, green grass, beautiful flowers. We grow a garden, and I am eager to see the rain soak the ground to prepare it for my plants.

This morning when we woke up, my older two boys desperately wanted to go outside. Seeing as how it was reasonably warm out and not actively raining anymore, I agreed. Rain boots on? Check. Spring jackets on? Check. Childhood imagination? Oh yeah, definitely check! Out they went, left to romp in the water and dig in the mud. They had a blast! They found worms, a dead and petrified grub-like insect, and lots of sticks blown about because of the storm. They made a river, digging deep into the mud and creating a trench which then filled in with water. They threw mud into the yard, because Benjamin knew that the nutrients found within dirt deliver precious minerals to growing plants. He wanted the grass to grow. They kicked their ball around, sat in the mud, and jumped a bit more. After nearly an hour, they decided they were cold and wanted to come back in. Boots were emptied of water, muddy jackets and pants were stripped, and two filthy children found their way into a warm tub of water where a bar of soap stripped them of any evidence of their former mud bath.

Today, they couldn't wait to tell daddy about their romp in the mud and to show him their river which had begun evaporating. And I am so grateful that they had the chance to explore the world outside of a good book, one that is tangible, easily manipulated between their fingers. I am a devout reader, and we cling tightly to our tradition of at least one chapter of a good children's chapter book each night. And I can respect the necessity of learning writing and arithmetic, grammar and spelling. I understand that school work is important. BUT. Sometimes they learn more about life than any book can teach them by running and playing and just plain being kids.

I believe that kids today are rushed far too much. What are we rushing them to? Childhood, with all it's magic and wonder, is so very fleeting. It is over before you realize it. I vowed long ago to let my children enjoy their lives and to encourage play; hearty, knee-deep, forget-about-life-for-a-while playing. I want them to get lost in their imaginations. I want to see the creations they build out of blocks and watch their trains come to life. And most of all, I want them to never be afraid to get dirty. I mean, really, really dirty. Why not? Kids are washable; they live. I don't ever want them to feel too afraid to dig right into life. Why not start now?

So your mission for today, should you choose to accept it, is to let your kids abandon all reserve at least once. Let them play all-out with the dough, let them scatter their toys *everywhere* as they rescue their fictitious character from peril. Let them romp in the mud (in their play clothes of course!). Let them be messy and feel reckless abandon! And y'know what? Join them. We could all use a little loosening up every now and then, eh?

About Jen Salowitz

I am a mama to 3 boys. I strive to live a greener, healthier live while preserving my children's innocence. I enjoy reading, learning more about natural birth and health-care, and playing the piano!

Posted by: Jen Salowitz