This evening I went on a walk with Zoe. We were walking along a secluded path, far away from any cars, so I let her run a little bit ahead of me. Suddenly Zoe comes to a stop and I notice that there are two medium-sized puddles right in front of her. Zoe gently taps the edge of one of the puddles; this results in a small splash. Mildly amused, Zoe decides to move her foot further into the puddle and this time puts down her foot with a bit more force. Aha, a bigger splash. Some of the water even lands on mommy who is standing next to the puddle, deciding whether to drag Zoe away. Zoe then makes the next natural step – she jumps right into the middle of the puddle with both feet. Wow, what a splash!
By this point Zoe’s shoes and socks are completely soaked, but the look of joy on her face is priceless. And it is not some frivolous joy – it’s the joy of discovery. I just cannot bring myself to pick her up and carry her away, even though something tells me I may have to pay for this weakness later. After making a few more splashes with her feet, Zoe decides that there is nothing new to be discovered there so she goes on to see what will happen if she slaps the water with her hands. Not nearly as big of a splash – what a disappointment! The only consolation is that a bit of the splashed water lands on her face. But surely there is something more fun that she could do…and with a mischievous look on her face, Zoe turns around and plops her behind right into the puddle.
Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t produce that big of a splash, probably because the plop is fairly gentle. But the size of the splash no longer matters. Apparently nothing can compare to the joy of sitting in a puddle. However, this is also the point at which I draw the line and lose my composure. I pick her up from the puddle, dump her in the stroller and start walking towards home. To my great surprise, Zoe doesn’t resist too much; she is more confused than upset. On the way home she occasionally reminisces about the puddle but I distract her by saying that we need to get back to Katie and daddy. Thus ends the story.
While retelling the story to Katie later in the day, I found myself thinking of how often in our lives a figure of authority prevents incidents of innocent exploration and what the consequences of that might be. Please share your thoughts and stories.