I attended my son’s weekly t-ball game today and found myself quite perplexed. Parent after parent after parent told their children to stop playing in the dirt. All I could think was,”You’re seriously asking a 5 year old, who is in the middle of a baseball diamond surrounded by dirt, to stop playing in it?” That’s like asking LeBron James to be on a basketball team and telling him that he can’t touch the ball. It’s absurd! Everyone who has played baseball has played in the dirt; it’s darn near a requirement. When did this shift in thinking happen? When did we become parents who don’t let our kids fully enjoy the benefits of playing outside? Why is it okay to play on a t-ball team, but not get dirty? Huh? There are too many questions stemming from what should be considered normal, simple and natural behavior for children. I guess parenting these days is just different, and I’m not sure that’s always a good thing.
Growing up, I remember coming home from being outside all day and being asked if I had fun. My parents weren’t worried about grass stains and dirt under my nails; they weren’t hovering over my every move either. They let me be a kid. It was the best thing they could’ve done. The simplicity of those days has never left me and is a constant inspiration for paying it forward to my kids. I want them to have memories of riding their bikes, playing at the park, running through the sprinkler and other fun moments filled with what childhood should be; none of this not playing in the dirt business.
So, the next time your child wants to splash in a puddle, run ahead of you on the sidewalk, eat dessert first, play with the pots and pans, finger paint or play with Play-doh (those last two are for me personally!), let them. It’s all part of being a kid, and letting them be just that is the best thing we can do.