It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring, and yadda yadda yadda. Your kids have been trapped inside for days and are beginning to climb the walls — literally, you found one parkouring on the top of a doorframe. They’re jumping on the beds and building forts with the couch cushions, which is a cute memory, until they begin flopping on top of those cushions while another kid’s underneath it.
They’ve watched almost everything on Netflix, including Conan the Barbarian because it’s been raining for six days, and you stopped caring on day three. You’ve wondered if you might actually begin ripping your hair out. You’d go to the grocery store for entertainment, if you weren’t sure they’d climb the toilet paper shelves out of sheer, desperate, pent-up child energy.
Mama, there’s a simple solution to this madness: Let them play in the rain.
I can only assure you that your child will not melt. Children are impervious to water of all kinds, including acid rain, and will not degenerate into a pile of mush upon contact with actual precipitation. Many moms are dubious of this point of view, so it’s best to get it out of the way immediately.
And as the Scots know, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. You want your kid to play in the rain? You only need to dress them for it. Rain hats and raincoats are so named for a reason. Should you not own these wondrous items, anything moderately waterproof will do. You want to keep the head warm and the water off the torso. The rest is just window dressing. Boots are recommended, but any sturdy non-dress footwear will do as long as it’s warm enough, and you don’t mind it getting mucky.
Because it will get mucky. Your children, while playing in the rain, will get mucky. Luckily, God created us all washable. You already know this; you spend half your day cleaning food off small faces. Mud isn’t much different. So prepare to throw your kid in the tub afterward, both for warmth and cleanliness. Bonus: This will burn more daylight and allow more water play. You’ll have to mop up the bathroom afterward, but it’s a small price to pay for 20 minutes of phone time.
When you let the kids outside, they will immediately begin stomping in puddles. If you have inculcated them with a psychic ban on puddle stomping, they will look warily at you. You may need to tell them, “Go stomp in the puddles. It’s OK.” They will then fly in with both feet. Do not flinch when water flies everywhere. This is what is supposed to happen.
Next they will discover the gutters or at least the rivulets of water running down the sides of your cul-de-sac. They will drop leaves in the water and watch them float away. They may race them. They will progress from leaves to sticks to…someone go inside and get a toy boat! Just make sure there are no storm drains around. Because, you know, the clown from It and all.
Next will come the mud. The glorious, sticky, gooey, muddy mud. They will stir it with sticks. They will dig it up and fling it everywhere. They will begin painting the driveway with it, using said sticks. Worms will emerge. They will pick up the worms and wave them around. They will want to show you the worms. Do not act grossed out. Do not act surprised. Say, “That’s a lovely enormous worm, darling. Why don’t you put it back in the ground where it lives?”
There is a possibility they will collect worms. You must steel yourself for this. Remember, you do not need to touch them. You do not need to look at them. You can focus your eyes on the tree just above the worm collection and mouth admiration for their length, breadth, and other worm-like qualities (pinkness? squigglyness?). Encourage your children to return them to the earth from whence they came. Perhaps save one in a flower pot. This is your foray into vermiculture. It’s science, people.
Your kids will get wet — obviously. They will want shovels to pick up the water, which has no doubt collected in flower pots and Radio Flyer toys. Pouring water and making their own mud is half the reason they’re here. But when they start throwing it at each other, it’s time to go inside.
Walk in the door. Strip off the wet clothes and throw them right in the washer, or right next to the washer if you’ve been washing the same load for three days now, and it’s starting to mildew again.
Hustle them into a warm tub where they can pour water at each other until their little soggy hearts are content.
Congratulations! You just made a memory. Trust me, they will remember this. I hope you remembered to take cell phone pics.
And don’t be surprised if your kids ask to do it all again as soon as they warm up.