After sharing a dinner with Mindy, we headed over to the ball park around the corner from our house to watch her husband play baseball. Sometimes when we go the kids watch the game with great interest, waiting for a foul ball to run after. Other times, such as last night, they play together uninterested in the game. They ran around the perimeter of the ball field a couple times. Then they meandered over the a grove of trees. Together they played, delighted and content. Periodically, I glanced their way. Happy. Sitting in the grass. Laughing and playing.
When it was time to go I stood up and started walking toward them. It was in that moment that I noticed the "grass" was not grass at all. My dear sweet children had been playing in a giant mud puddle. They were dancing about now, their laughter rising and falling as they themselves splashed back into the mud. The boy was one brown mess from his head to his toes. Little girl also one outrageous form of brown. I laughed to myself before I approached them. I fashioned in my mind how they would get home. Just then my husband shows up at the ball park. The kids spot him and shamefully hide behind the trees. That look of "Oh No, Dads here and we are going to be in trouble!"
He calls them out from behind the trees and asks if they had made a good choice. They decide no it was not the best choice. Walking back to the car the kids ask me for forgiveness. Which I do.
Looking them over, I decide there is NO WAY they are entering my vehicle. I decide that they are going to walk home. It's not far, a couple of blocks, they seem excited about the freedom. I creep slowly beside them, the hazard lights blinking. The kids find great fun in running ahead of me. Nearly a race to get home. They are laughing still. Joy on their faces.
Home within minutes, their filthy clothes lay in a pile. Completely brown. The kids take showers and get cleaned up. Then they go off to bed and quickly go to sleep. As for me, I throw the soiled clothes in the washer, praying, they will come clean. Then I curl up with my book and read into the wee hours of the night.
It is now morning. I tell the kids I am all for playing in the mud and getting dirty but there are times and places. Dad chimes in, with a please ask next time. The clothes are in the dryer, clean. Showing no sign of their dance in the mud. I am feeling quite thankful for laundry detergent right about now. It will allow me to let go of a storybook, clean and pressed child. Allowing them to be free to play as they wish. Carefree and full of joy.