Monday, August 23, 2010

Lessons about Mud.

Yesterday Jackson played in the mud.

While most mother's are fearful of the "I looked away for one second..." followed by a tale of danger that brings terror to every mother's heart, my story regularly goes more like this:
I looked away for one second and Jackson was covered in dirt. In this particular case, it was mud. There is one mud puddle on the entire farm right now and Jackson found it. The sticky looking pit in the driveway was caused by the sprinkler. As I turned away from Jackson to adjust said sprinkler I didn't give it a second thought. I should have known better.

A couple days prior Jackson went on a walk with Grami up the driveway while I was tending to the farmers market. She looked away for one second and "it was like he was swimming in the dirt." As she described it, he was belly-down in the field with arms and legs submerged. So I had plenty of warning that his affinity toward dirt was rather strong.

The real kicker, though, is that he was wearing his brand new Converse shoes- both times. Now, I have owned the same pair of Converse since 2002. They are tan and look like I've been through a battlefield with them- because I have. I love am obsessed with my Converse and will not trade them in for a new pair until I can feel the gravel between my toes. However, my initial reaction to the scene that I turned toward after wrangling with the sprinkler would say otherwise. 

Let's just say I had a bad mommy moment.

I grabbed Jackson out of the puddle, held him out in front of me at arm's length (he had been sitting in the puddle) and said, "no, no, no!" while pointing at the source of Converse shoe demise. 

His shock was evident on his little, mud smeared face. Then he was mad. Really mad. How could I be so unreasonable?

At the same moment I thought, "How could I be so unreasonable?". Yes, I paid too much for those shoes in the name of baby fashion. Yes, I had just given Jackson a bath. Yes, mud is, well, very dirty. But where's the harm in letting him play in the mud- it washes off.  He'll grow out of those shoes by December anyway.
In my guilt I placed him back in the puddle. This was very confusing and he stood there frozen for a second, looked up at me, looked down at the puddle, pointed, and said, "no, no, no" as his shoes disappeared into the oozing abyss. The puddle had lost its lure and he toddled away down the driveway with the dog, all offenses forgotten.

I continued to feel awful. I had just unnecessarily disciplined Jackson for doing something he was absolutely loving just because I was worried about his shoes. Shouldn't his emotional well-being take precedence over his material possessions? Shouldn't there be a mommy manual that says, "If you overreact like this, you will feel like crap and you will send confusing messages to your child- so don't overreact."?  

At the end of the day Jackson was clean, his shoes were salvaged and we snuggled extra long before bedtime to make up for it.

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