The water was cold, he was hungry, he hadn’t slept well in days, never takes regular naps, and was surely overtired. He’d just spent the past 30 minutes strolling a crowded main street surrounded by hundreds of strangers. Perhaps he was overstimulated?
Furthermore, he had never experienced a splash pad before and didn’t know what to expect. No one coached him, no one told him the water would be so bitterly cold. The air temperature wasn’t much warmer, to be honest.
I questioned my parenting as I made the decision to let the kids loose out there on the splash pad fully clothed.
We just weren’t prepared.
Rarely in life we ever dive into things fully prepared though, do we? So much of what we do is just on a whim, even for an obsessive planner gal like myself.
I think that’s an important skill, or art, to be able to take things on, to just dive in.
There we were, Thursday evening, nearing bedtime with absolutely no reason to do this, but we did.
We just unbuckled the stroller, placed this little 1-year-old on the ground, and let him run.
None of those excuses above kept him from running straight for the jets, stretching out his hands and taking it all in.
The first blast made his eyes squint and he backed up a bit, being more cautious, he reached in again.
His little feet hitting the ground unsteadily made tiny waves shoot up about a quarter of an inch off the ground. Pretty amazing in comparison to the size of his body and his developmentally appropriate coordination.
He looked at us, his parents and grandfather, standing on the sidelines, and we saw a boy who was one hundred and fifty percent happy.
He wandered that splash pad, nearing the jets, occasionally getting a blast of cool water in his face. His big brother and sister were near him, observing his reactions, trying to teach him what to do.
My momma heart was full and happy. My phone’s gallery quickly filled with pictures and videos documenting his first trip to the splash pad.
Had I been better prepared we would’ve brought the kids’ coordinating suits and towels, I would’ve styled my daughter’s hair differently, I would’ve hit the beach during the golden hour for the best lighting.
I would’ve brought my big camera, and then complained about lugging that thing around if I didn’t get the best pictures that I had in my mind.
So often we make excuses to not do the things we ought to, and when we do, we make excuses for why they don’t turn out the way we imagined.
What if we stop imagining a picture perfect world, and just start imagining things the way a child does? With PURE JOY.
My challenge to you is that you would look at this world, and you would see pure joy, just like a child does.
No matter how bad things seem right now, no matter what excuses you can come up with, there is always a place for joy, a place to celebrate, a place for healing.