One big truth I’ve learned in the last 10 years is that parenting is an ever changing role. What works for one child isn’t necessarily the answer for the other child. And even, what flows for one child now, isn’t necessarily the thing that’s going to flow for him in a week, a month, a year. We have to adapt and change and be flexible enough to try new things. As our children get older and enter into new phases of development, we must meet them where they are and think up creative ways to let them express their new-found sense of self.
Recently, I’ve noticed my 6 year-old Teddy being drawn to water and mud play. He would turn on the hose and make everything exasperatingly muddy. He would make the driveway muddy, the walk down the side of the house muddy, the rose garden muddy.
At first I fought this mud… it got into my house, on my furniture… ALL OVER his shoes, onto our neighbors car! “PLEASE!” I would plead… “water the flowers, Teddy, fill a bucket… just DON’T make MUD!”
But of course, while I was saying this, the better mom in me was thinking… “Oh Donni, 6 year-old boys LOVE mud! Mud is good! Mud is fun! Mud can teach him things!”
So, I took a deep breath, let go of all the anxiety I had been feeling about MUD and embraced it instead.
Teddy and I made a mud kitchen in the back yard.
We went to The Goodwill to find cheap pots and pans and cooking utensils. We set aside a place in the flower garden to be the dirt pile. We found an old stainless steel silk that could be filled up with water. We made a counter for working on, collected nature bits to play with and set up the hose near the mud kitchen.
I can’t tell you how happy my boy is in his mud kitchen. He digs in the dirt, fills the sink, mixes mud. He makes mud cakes, mud pies, mud cookies. I have tasted them all and they are delicious!
I keep a big bucket of water and a couple of towels near the outside steps. It’s a rule that mud must be washed off before a muddy boy can come back inside.
Often, it’s when we embrace the very things we are struggling with that we find that they were opportunities after all.
Blessings and magic,