Have you ever jumped in a mud puddle? As a kid or even as an adult? I make it a point to jump in at least one if it’s there on our daily hike.
Some of you are probably thinking, ‘Is she crazy? Why would a grown woman want to jump in mud puddles?’
There’s something so freeing about it. Something I had forgotten until I started walking in the woods. At first I did everything in my power to keep the mud off of my boots even though they are waterproof and made for that sort of thing.
Then one day I could feel the anxiety building as I realized we were coming up to a particularly large puddle, one where there was really no way around it. I remember pausing, looking for the best route to keep my boots dry. I must have miscalculated because the next thing I know my right boot has mud up both sides and over the toe.
I stood there for a moment with my boot stuck in the mud and flashed back to one of the happiest, most embarrassing, and, looking back on it now, saddest days of my childhood.
My neighbor friend and I were out playing one day after it had just rained. Her grandmother lived next door to me and my friend had come for a visit. Of course I couldn’t really call her my friend since she did not belong to the same religion as I did, but my parents let me play with her from time to time.
So there we were playing on the dirt road back in the hollow with mud puddles everywhere. I mean we could hardly take a step without walking through one. I can’t remember which one of us jumped first, but I guess it doesn’t really matter because soon we were covered in mud and laughing hysterically.
It was everywhere, on our clothes, in our hair. I’m pretty sure we ate some too. My Dad was outside working on the car and when he looked up and saw what we were doing he started screaming for me to come home. I walked slowly up the road and stood at the end of the driveway waiting for him to look at me, finally figuring out that my parents might not be thrilled that I was covered in mud.
The look on his face confirmed it.
By then my Mom had come out on the front porch and she didn’t look happy either. My friend was long gone. I had never seen my father so angry. He was literally shaking with rage. I waited for him to start yelling again, but all he said was ‘go to your mother’.
I started walking across the front yard and all of a sudden I felt a hard smack on my butt, and another and another until we reached the porch steps. By that time I had snot mixed in with the mud on my face and kept crying for a good, long while after that.
To this day I don’t understand why he was so angry. I mean sure I was covered in mud, but it was just mud. It washed off. It wasn’t like I was dressed in my Sunday best or anything. Looking back on it now I think it had more to do with the fact that I was having fun with someone he thought I wasn’t supposed to hang around. I’m pretty sure she didn’t get beat but even if she did at least it wasn’t in front of the whole neighborhood.
I think that was when the little girl inside of me started to die. At least I thought she was dead for many, many years. But she was just hibernating, waiting for me to get out of my way long enough so she could come out to play…
So please, whether it’s literally or just figuratively, please go find a mud puddle and jump in it today.
Your inner child will thank you!