I’m not sure if I should be proud that I finally did this or ashamed that I hadn’t been doing this all along: I jumped in the mud with Ben.
See, usually, that’s the sort of stuff I stay away from. I don’t really care for getting full of mud and dirt; I’d rather chase Ben up and down the road, around the house, play trains or wrestle with him on the floor. This day was no exception, I would have rather done any of those things; however, Ben wanted to go outside really, really bad. No problem, I thought to myself, I’ll take him out to play.
This day was a little different than the others though. We had got a decent amount of rain the night before, which, normally wouldn’t have been a big deal. Why was it a big deal this time? Well, my father just happens to be helping us with a little bit of landscaping with his tractor (quick shout out to my Dad for being amazing) so the yard was just a huge, huge mud pit.
I was wearing my white sneakers (good choice, right?) and he had his rain boots on. From the moment his little feet got off the front deck, he was darting across the yard, jumping in mud puddles, flinging mud and dirt everywhere. Where was I? At a safe distance of course, far enough away not to get splashed but not far enough away that I couldn’t react in an emergency.
Every so often, he would run over to me and ask me to come play in the mud. In not my proudest parenting moment, I simply said “No” and told him to “Go have fun and play in the mud”. He would usually ask me a few times and I would always respond the same way. He’d go back to the mud and play and I would be left pacing around aimlessly watching him enjoy himself. I can’t really explain my thought process that well at this point, all I know is that at some point, I asked myself: why am I not playing with my son? I took parental leave to spend time with my family, specifically to have fun with the boys. Well, Ben was having fun, but I wasn’t having fun WITH him, I was just watching him.
I decided that that had to change, FAST. I promised myself that I would use the opportunity I had been given to spend some quality time with the boys and here I was wasting it. So, I quickly ran in the house, threw on my own rain boots and marched right back outside. Ben must have noticed that I had them on and was heading in his direction because he popped his little head up and said “Daddy, you play?” which I triumphantly replied “YUP!” and jumped in the mud puddle right in front of him, splashing mud on both Ben and I. At that moment, my day got much, much better.
This is what Ben had been waiting for, you could see it on his little face. Finally, Dad is playing with me in the mud! After we splashed around and made a few mud castles, Ben knew Iwas on board with the whole mud situation, so he decided he wanted to graduate and move on to bigger mud puddles. Since my Dad had the back yard dug up there were two big, deep mud puddles, which were Ben’s next target. Whoosh, in he goes. The water is deep enough that it went right over the top of his boots.
I never ended up putting my body in the mud; however, due to a few stumbles, Ben was soaked from head to toe in muddy water. After running around some more, chasing a butterfly and slightly drying off in the sun, Ben and I started heading inside. Before that though, Kim managed to get a few pictures of us yelling “Mud Boys.”
Looking back on that day, it makes me realize that I need to stop trying to “grow up faster”. I’m probably a little to concerned about trying to set a good example for how my son should be when he is older that I don’t stop to have fun with him now sometimes. Sometimes it feels like all I’m doing is trying to grow him up faster. I don’t want that. He’s a little boy and should be doing what little boys do: have lots and lots of fun. So I think it’s time to take it easy a bit more, clean less, have more fun and yes, jump in more mud puddles. I think it’s time to start saying yes to being a little crazy, yes to having lots of fun and yes to embracing everything life has to offer. I won’t get these days back, so it’s time to make them more memorable.
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