Some of my very favorite memories are of mess makings. I climbed trees. I dug in dirt. I built forts in the sides of hills. I hiked mountains and made mud pies, and pinched earth worms in half. And yes, I was called a Tom Boy, and yes I was lucky enough to have a big brother who (mostly) didn’t mind his little sister following close behind him.
But somewhere between then and now, girls became pink-clad and expected to be very clean. Somewhere in time, all girls turned into princesses and “dirt” became the worst four-letter word when it was used in the same sentence as “girl.”
But I don’t want that for Julia. I know she loves a good princess, and that’s fun too. But I really want her to know that there are other ways to be. I want her to know that those princess gowns can get dirty, filthy even. Pink looks good with a little mud on it. And sometimes splashing in muddy puddles is a fun alternative to tea parties.
So last week, when our preschool went to a local farm to pick strawberries, I packed extra clothes for both kids. And when Julia squealed at the idea of jumping in the mud puddles, I went with it.
I think some of the other parents were a little surprised. And several of them expressed concern for the inside of my car on the ride home. As Julia splashed big, as her boots filled up with muddy water and her blue jeans turned brown, as the mud caked on her hands, in her hair, over her face, those other parents smiled as big as I did.
Maybe they were remembering their own dirty childhoods.