This afternoon we decided to go for a little woodland walk before Willow goes down for her nap. We thought it would be a nice way for her to try out her new wellies, even though it wasn’t particularly muddy out. On the way back she spotted a giant puddle next to the stable, and was instinctively drawn to it (why are all kids so fascinated by pools of water!?)
Now I remember reading a while back this debate on ‘Peppa Pig’ – with some mums complaining that it was encouraging their children to splash in puddles and therefore the show was banned in their house. I must admit that it really got me thinking. On the one hand, our washing basket is always overflowing and anything to trim back on wash loads is a bonus here, but on the other hand – what harm is a bit of muddy water?
I found that my natural reaction was to say ‘No, Willow. You’ll get all grubby,’ but then I stood back and allowed myself a moment to see how happy she was. Yes, her welly socks needed to go straight in the washing machine. Yes, her lovely Frugi tights were soaked through, but did it really matter?
Parenting to me is about lifting the restraints we have placed on ourselves as adults so that we may learn how to see life through a child’s eyes again. I have bite my tongue and remember that we go out in the cold so that we may enjoy that lovely warm feeling when we step indoors again. Or, in this instance, jump in puddles so that we can feel that satisfaction from washing the mud off later.
Time after time I see people who are so consumed by life itself that they can’t spare a moment to pause and answer they child’s seemingly ridiculous question. Or walk a little slower so their kid can stare at the leaves on the ground. We all do it. Sometimes Willow is so slow that I kick myself for not bringing the buggy so we can get from A to B before the season changes. I find it frustrating, I see myself getting angry, but I’m also learning to allow myself to allow her that time. Dinner might be 20 minutes late, which means bath and bed might also get knocked back a little too, but if I’m honest to myself: we’re in no great rush. I’d rather be relaxed with a loose routine, than be tense in a strict one.