Last summer I took the kids to a Messy Party that a friend hosted. It was, as it sounds, a party created just to make a big mess. She had tons of activities set up around the place that were goopy and slimy and all-around good messy fun. Miss M was almost three at the time and Mr. M was almost one. He was in heaven and crawled and squished his was through the messiest of parts. Miss M didn't get more adventurous than the cloud dough and the wading pool full of clean water (for washing off the "mess"). Not surprising, she's always been hesitant of messes - getting paint on her, even getting food on her, is cause for alarm.
She comes by it honestly. Neither myself or my husband are fans of messes either. I do see the value in it though and understand the freedom, especially as a child, that comes with making the biggest mess you can, just because. Within messes are usually learning experiences, socializing, and fun.
I was at the playground yesterday with another mom and her kids and we decided to go for a walk by the lake. Her kids immediately asked if they could put their feet in and, once permission was granted, their socks and shoes were gone and they were splashing in the water and squishing in the mud. Miss M hesitantly watched for a moment then waded in herself, the giggles expanding as she felt the mud between her toes and the water start to seep into her leggings, although carefully holding her dress above the water line. Meanwhile Mr. M was sitting in the water tossing rocks, apparently testing how much lake water his diaper could hold before he started to float.
I watched her follow her new friend around and become bolder as she saw her have fun with messy play. She eventually let her dress drop into the water and soaked and muddied pretty much everything on her. I swallowed back any cautionary calls and smiled and told myself it was fine, there was a towel in the car for the dog and they could get back in the car naked if they had to - our house is only a five minute drive away.
When it was time to go we brushed off their feet, peeled off the wettest of their clothes and they walked barefoot through the grass back to the car, delighting in being grubby and messy. And it made me happy to see them enjoying being kids.
So I now declare this the SUMMER OF MESSY PLAY (shhh, I haven't told my husband yet). I am going to push my own boundaries of mess in the hopes my kids, particularly Miss M, push theirs and start creating those messy memories they deserve. After all, what's the point of summer as a kid if you can't enjoy playing in a dirt pile, stomping in a mud puddle, or finger painting in the sunshine.
What's that they say? Please excuse the mess, the children are making more work for me...er, I mean, memories.
Now, I'm off to stock the car with old towels, change of clothes, and add extra laundry detergent and stain removers to the grocery list...