I look forward to summer, longing to visit lots of outdoor places with James, having fun in the sun. He can play with his sand and water table in the garden, I can sunbathe, and we can go on lots of walks and generally spend a lot of time outdoors without having to put on wellies and waterproofs. This summer however, is proving very different with days when we are both still in winter coats and wellies. I thought our winter outdoor clothes would have been put away a long time by now, but not this summer.
Most of the places I like to take James are outdoors and can get very muddy when wet. This summer I have probably embraced the rain more than I would in the winter. We have walked up Crickley Hill in the rain, which James seemed to quite enjoy until the rain was blowing in his face. I then had to sing to him (not a nice sound) to encourage him to keep walking, because no one wants to be carrying a wet muddy child around. We have also been to Painswick Rococo Garden in the rain, which was a lot better than I thought because under the trees you don’t really get wet. We even saw a mouse, which normally if Blossom catches one in the garden I am quite squeamish, but I don’t want to let James know of my fear of any animals. I embraced it and bravely walked towards the mouse to point it out to James, which captured his interested for about 10 seconds.
This week we visited Worcester Woods and although it wasn’t raining, it was extremely wet and muddy from the rain we have had. Now I am not talking about the sort of puddles you get in the street, these were puddles with thick squelchy mud. As we approached the first muddy puddle, or maybe a swamp would be a better way to describe it, I tried to tell James it was too muddy to play in. I had visions of him falling over flat on his face and being covered in mud, something I know he wouldn’t find very funny. Some passers by walking their dog helpfully encouraged James to go into this “swamp” telling us it would be fun for him to play in, all very well until I then had to wade in to get him out.
Luckily I had anticipated that there would be lots of muddy puddles so I had worn wellies myself, and dressed James in waterproof trousers and wellies. His waterproof trousers are one of the best things I have bought him. I start putting them on him while he is in his car seat and then pull them up properly when I get him out of the car. They are great because he can get them filthy and I know that I just need to pull them off him before he gets in the car and he is generally clean again. I opted for waterproof trousers rather than a puddle suit because I thought they would be easier to get on and off, and he can wear them with his coat if he needs to.
James ended up falling on his bottom in Worcester Woods and just looked at me as though he didn’t know what to do next. I may have muttered I knew that was going to happen to him, something his dad frequently says to me when James hurts himself. I pulled James up and saw the thick mud that coated his trousers, so thick I knew it wouldn’t wipe off with some wipes. Oh well, that’s what the waterproof trousers are for and I knew I could just throw them in the washing machine when we got home. James didn’t seem too bothered about this muddy addition to his trousers, other than when he wiped his hands over his bum and got muddy sleeves. He wasn’t impressed by the muddy sleeves but soon forgot about them when he found another muddy puddle.
The whole walk consisted of going from one puddle to another and me hoping James wasn’t going to fall flat on his face in one of them, but at the same time appreciating the enjoyment he was getting from playing in the mud and splashing around. Normally at the end of our walk around the woods I let James go and play in the play area, but looking at the state of him I decided against it. He would only get mud everywhere and make the slide muddy for other children. This was the only tantrum I had to deal with throughout the walk, and instead I had to entice him back to the car without picking his muddy self up and carrying him there. In fact this was the first time he had walked around the woods without being picked up at all. He did ask to be picked up once, but I refused because I didn’t also want to be covered in mud, so I distracted him with another puddle.
This summer has made me realise that to a certain extent it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing because as long as we dress appropriately we can still have fun outside. For James he is probably having more fun with all of these puddles than he would if it was warm and dry. The Norwegian’s certainly have a point when they say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. There was a time where I wouldn’t want to go out in the rain, but I have come to realise it really isn’t that bad and seeing the enjoyment from James makes it all worth it.