April brings puddles of fun

Ruth Griffiths

At this time of year I need no excuse to get outside and play in the puddles. I pretend I am cleaning the sidewalk but really I’m just fascinated by the running water. I clear debris from the gutter, but it’s just an excuse to watch the water run faster. In those few moments, I’m a child again, fascinated by water.
I think I come by this trait naturally. My family tells a story about my grandfather who was out early in the spring draining the fields. He dug little ditches to make the water run more quickly into the river that transected his land. The story goes that one warm spring day, Grandpa was ditching near the river when he sneezed and his dentures fell into the water. A beaver snatched them and swam away. Or that’s what Grandpa says happened. We secretly believed that he was just tired of those ill-fitting false teeth.
My youngest brother also loved to wade in the water. We lived across the street from a park that flooded every spring. He would head out the door after school to test the depths. “Don’t get a boot-full,” my mother or I would warn.
“No, I’ll be careful,” he would say sincerely, “I’m only going to go as far as it comes over my boots.” His childish logic believed that he was doing the responsible thing!
When I was a mother, I made sure my kids had plenty of opportunities to splash about outside. Besides, it gave me an opportunity to join right in.
One warm spring day, as I was preparing to leave them with a sitter, I suggested that my son should wear his rubber boots “because he likes to play in the water.” She reminded me of that every time we met. I thought it unremarkable to allow for safe adventuring into the puddles, but she knew many other mothers would have suggested keeping the child out of the mud altogether.
Now that I’m a grandmother, I see the world again through a child’s eyes. One wet weekend while babysitting my grandson we took a walk around the block. When you walk with a toddler you either carry them or you make a million stops. I tried to interest him in picking dandelions, because there is always another yellow blossom just a few feet ahead. He was having none of it and was beginning to get cranky until we found a trickle of water from the eavestrough of a neighbour’s garage. My grandson squatted by the downspout for many minutes, playing with the drops of cool water that sparkled in the morning sunlight. He got wet and muddy but it was a special peaceful moment for both of us in the midst of a stressful weekend.
Well, it’s only water and it’s only mud. The child and their clothing can be washed and the footwear will dry out… eventually. All too soon the childhood years are gone and we will have missed the opportunity to putter around in the puddles.
The saying is, “April showers bring May flowers,” but for me it might as well be “April showers may bring puddles of fun.”