Measure of success found playing in dirtWhen it comes to playing outside, dirty clothes are the measure of success. It’s 2013 and the Mayan Apocalypse has come and gone. That means I will mark five and one-half decades of living this year.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
When it comes to playing outside, dirty clothes are the measure of success.
It’s 2013 and the Mayan Apocalypse has come and gone. That means I will mark five and one-half decades of living this year.
On the bright side, I have accumulated a good amount of life experience to draw on for my writing. The down side is the ever-increasing likelihood that my age casts a pall over what used to be considered good advice. Now, when doling out my tidbits of wisdom or declaring the right and wrong of things, I risk being perceived as old-fashioned, out of touch with the times and perhaps even senile. Egad!
And might I add, so sad and too bad. Somebody has to tell the young whippersnappers which end is up. But for all the complaining they do about how confusing and complicated life is, they sure are quick to tell us they have it all figured out anytime we try to offer advice.
If they are so smart that they know everything, who do they believe taught it to them in the first place? I think that’s one of those catch-22 things.
A few days ago, I was listening to Rebecca P. Cohen, author of 15 Minutes Outside, a book of 365 activities she designed to get you and your family out of doors every day of the year.
Now there is some good advice — connecting with nature every day, breathing in fresh air (as opposed to stale, virus ridden indoor air), getting a bit of physical exercise. It’s most assuredly a good practice for overall health and wellness. As my dear mother said, “Get outside and blow the stink off of you.”
During the interview, Cohen chuckled about having to tell the moms of kids who came to her house for play dates to send a change of clothing. She explained that some of the parents weren’t happy when she sent their kids home in clothing dirty from playing outside.
Shut the front door! Did I hear her correctly? Aren’t children supposed to get dirty when they play outside? Isn’t that a big part of the experience? Perhaps these other mothers would have been less irritated if Cohen had just laundered the soiled clothing before returning the kids.
When I was a kid (oh, oh — there’s that phrase that sends me back to the ice age in the eyes of anybody younger than 40). When I was a kid, we had school clothes that had to be kept neat and clean. Everything else was play clothes.
Play clothes often started out as school clothes until some misfortune like a tear or stain relegated them to being suitable only for play. Playground misfortune not withstanding, if I didn’t change out of my school clothes the minute I arrived home, there would be h-e-double-toothpicks to pay.
I’ve seen these neat-freak mothers at playgrounds and parks, with their kids in cute little designer duds with T-shirts so white they probably glow in the dark, armed with their hand sanitizer and wet-wipes.
The kids sit in boxes of sterilized sand, climb on smooth composite play structures and swing on plastic seats hung with nylon rope. They do all of this on a five-inch-deep safety layer of shredded fill recycled from old tires.
As kids, my friends and I climbed trees filthy with fungus, swung in grimy, old tires we hung from the tree with fraying rope, scrambled over rusty monkey bars, made mud pies with the playground dirt (good old Superior clay) and sometimes had to scoop things out of the sandbox that were left by the neighborhood cats.
My pediatrician, Old Doctor Sincock, told my mother that a little dirt was good for us and would build up our immunity. He was right, perhaps in more ways than he knew.
We were not as insulated, padded and protected as kids. We learned that life isn’t always clean and perfect; sometimes it gets down right dirty, but you can always pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again.
That’s a lot to learn in exchange for a few extra loads of laundry along the way.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to email@example.com.