What Puddles Are For
Last week, as I was driving to the post office, I noticed two little boys splashing through rain puddles. They were laughing as they kicked the water into the air. Watching their joy as they stomped their feet in the water, two very distinct memories surfaced.
It was Sunday morning. My mother had dressed me all in white – dress, socks, shoes, gloves, hat. She gave me strict orders to sit on a chair while she got my brother ready for church. As I sat on that hard wooden chair, the smell of wet grass drifted through the window. It had rained hard the night before, but now the sun was shining.
Glancing toward the bedroom, I saw Mom buttoning up my brother’s shirt. It wouldn’t hurt, so I thought, just to take a peek outside. That peek was my undoing. For there, not far from the edge of the back steps, was a huge water puddle. And next to the puddle were the piles of dirt my brother had heaped up to make hills for his toy truck to climb.
Out the door I went. I dipped my gloved hand into the water puddle and found it was warm. Sitting down, I filled my hands with some of the moist dirt and began to shape it into a pie. Well, of course, it wasn’t quite wet enough to do that, so I submerged the ball of dirt in the puddle.
I had very happily made several mud pies when all of a sudden I heard a loud sound. There was Mom standing in the doorway. And she wasn’t at all happy with my culinary efforts.
The upshot of the whole mud pie episode was that we didn’t get to church that day.
The second memory was that of a 3-year-old girl who did exactly what her mother told her to do.
She, too, had found a big puddle of water once the rain that had been falling for three days had ceased. And she went wading. That lasted for a few seconds until she lost her balance and fell. Standing up, she looked at her wet clothing, then headed to the house. Not able to reach the screen door handle, she pounded on the door until her mother heard her.
Opening the door, the mother picked up the little girl and stood her on the rug. After removing the child’s wet clothing, the mother bathed the little girl and put clean clothes on her. The child immediately raced to the door, wanting to go back outside.
Ten minutes later, the girl was back pounding on the door. With an exasperated sigh, the mother again picked up the child, cleaned her up, and put fresh clothing on her. As the girl went to the door once more, the mother told her that if she had to absolutely go into the puddle, she should take her clothes off first.
As the mother watched, her child ran to the puddle, then stopped and turned around and saw her mother watching her. So, very carefully, the little girl took off all her clothes, neatly folded them, set them aside, and jumped into the puddle, shrieking with laughter.
I sometimes think I can hear the sighs of mothers mingle with squeals of pure joy as their children run through puddles. Perhaps the peals of laughter also bring a smile to the mothers as they remember when once upon a time they, too, ran through puddles and played in the mud.
After all, isn’t that what puddles are for?
Sandy Laumeyer is The Courier's Nashua correspondent.