I can quite clearly remember lots of ‘messy-play’ from when I was little, though I think it was just called ‘being a kid’ back in the eighties. We were always doing play-doh, or we were jumping about in leaves or drawing on the drive with chalk, and I loved it. I didn’t realise how much at the time, but on reflection those are the memories I hold fondest.
So, obviously, as something that I look back on with great affection, this is something I absolutely do with my own children. When we go for woodland walks I can guarantee that the Big Little Man will have to be stripped before he gets in the car, his wellies will have to be rinsed about 100 times before he can wear them again, and his coat washed at least twice. He will also have the biggest smile on his face and talk about it for several days. I’ll never forget a visit to Margam Park and Big Little Man was enthusiastically jumping in a puddle –water was going everywhere, and a lady in her sixties looked on in delight, ‘I had to teach my grandson how to jump in puddles, his mother had made him scared to get dirty, it’s lovely to see a child being a child, well done’.
It was such a lovely, unexpected compliment.
Amusingly enough, as we were walking back to the car a woman stopped dead at the sight of my mud-soaked child and, not realising I was there, told him, ‘Your Mummy is going to be very cross with you’.
‘No, she’s not. It’s only a load of washing.’
She looked horrified. And I laughed. There’s many things I know I’m not great at, but allowing my children to be children is something I know I’m nailing.