Getting dirty

The VIC playground before its recent Eagle Scout project renovation by Wyatt Martin. (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

Parenting is tricky, and we will always meet people we want to emulate and find people we want to avoid. It’s just the way the world works. Just like now, my words may resonate with some people and become a meme for others. It’s all good; no hurt feelings here. The topic of the day is getting dirty. (Mind out of the gutter, people.) A few hundred years ago, my daughter left a ballet class, all pink and white and tutu twirls.

She wanted to go to the playground, and I would have done anything for a few moments of relaxation. The playground’s job is to exhaust children. Sure, have fun while there, but still do the job, playground.

Before arguments commence, a playground’s job is not to maim children though we’ve had our fair share of sprained fingers, bruises, and bumps.

My daughter did what any toddler would do while there. She got dirty. She wasn’t jumping in puddles, not that I would have cared.

There were no puddles there. She was sliding, crawling, and climbing. Then came the person whose parenting advice I didn’t need or want. I just wanted to sit, have an adult conversation, and only worry if my child’s head got stuck in a grate. I did not want to play with my child. I did that at home, at restaurants, and on trails. I just wanted to sit and watch my child learn by taking mild risks and enjoying a peer’s company.

This parent felt it was essential to have clean clothes. It was a constant battle between parent and child to figure out what area was deemed too filthy and unsafe. It may seem that I’m targeting this parent’s choices. I’m not. It is just that, a choice. I initially felt a bit slighted when the parent intervened to stop any interaction between our children. I took the lecture on clothing care, chose what to retain and what to discard for the wellbeing of my own family.

Did my grubby kid play with that particular child?

No. There were other grimy kids on the playground. Her tights may have ripped, but we still have the tutu. It’s impressive what soap and water can get out.

She played hard then as she does now, and she’s still not afraid to get dirty.


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