When I was child I loved to play outside in the rain. I would get so excited, scrambling into my boots and raincoat, grabbing my umbrella and dashing out the door in a mad tumble to enjoy the weather. There was no eavestroughing along the edge of the garage and my sister and I loved to walk under the waterfall that cascaded off the roof along that side, sometimes using our umbrellas to part the curtain of water, but sometimes just standing there with our hoods up and enjoying the pressure of the flowing water through the vinyl of our coats. We loved to dance in the rain.
Rainy days were fun because they brought out worms and frogs to play with, and you could float leaves and twigs in the “oceans” made by the growing puddles (not mention the fun of jumping and splashing in those puddles!) We made soup with buckets of rain water, mud, handfuls of grass and clover and pieces of gravel. We picked dandelions, carefully peeling the stems into thin strings and then watching as they curled into ringlets when we dropped them into the water. The clouds were a thousand shades of pearly gray, whipped into a frenzy of pulsating shapes by the winds of the low front moving through. The water cleaned the streets and the front steps and made the cars along the street look all shiny and new again. And the rain had a smell to it; a freshening, promising scent of new beginnings.
Oh, how I loved the rain.
And then I was a teenager, and getting rained on was just annoying and uncomfortable; wet jeans took forever to dry, and wet shoes were even worse (because, of course, rain boots were a fashion faux-pas, used only by little kids and soccer moms). And rain plastered your hair and made you look ridiculous. Not to mention the squashed worms all over the road… ick! I started to hate the rain
And then I was a grown up, living in an apartment, with an office job, a commute, and shoes I didn’t want ruined by the water (but I still didn’t wear rain boots). And the inconvenience of having to carry an umbrella or worse, a raincoat, was an almost personal affront; I had no patience for rain.
And then I was a Mommy, with a little boy who wanted to go outside and play. I sighed and opened my mouth to object and point out that it was raining; then I thought it might actually buy me a few minutes of peace and quiet to actually get some work done. So I packed him into his raincoat and boots and sent him out into the backyard, by himself; I had no time for playing in the rain.
That day, I glanced out the window at one point and watched my son wander around aimlessly, thinking briefly that he didn’t seem to know how to play in the rain. And I was puzzled. But he was outside and out of trouble so I left him there, in the rain, because I had things to do.
But I wonder what would have happened if I had just taken the time to put on my rain boots (I got tired of wet feet and ruined shoes a while back, and actually do have a pair now) and rain coat and gone out to play with him. He would have probably been thrilled that Mommy was actually spending time with him rather than telling him off for leaving his toys strewn across the kitchen floor again.
Maybe I could have shown him how to play in the rain, the way my sister and I used to do when we were children. Maybe he would have liked making dandelion curls and floating bits of bark in the puddles with me. Maybe we could have searched for frogs and worms together, and marvelled at all the colours in the fast-moving clouds. And maybe, hand-in-hand, we could have learned to dance in the rain together as the storm passed overhead.