“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”
Mac likes to ride his bike through puddles. He seeks them out; we go on puddle-hunts. It’s a lot more fun than riding around the puddles, and when he finds a puddle to ride through, he gets happy and excited and scared and tentative and thrilled. He speeds up as he approaches them, but where he used to pick up his feet so as not to be affected by the puddle, he now drags them through, taking his time through the puddle space, one splash, and then another, and another, until he’s at the other end of it, wanting to do it one more time, one more time.
Mac’s attraction to puddles leads me to think that inside the puddle there is a particular kind of experience that’s more attractive than outside of the puddle. Going through it is way more interesting (though not often easier) than going around it. So what’s that about?
We can call upon the proverbs of “Every path has its puddle” and “You can’t tell how deep a puddle is until you step into it,” and apply that to learning. The puddle is the unknown; the challenging; the dirty; the temporal; the ambiguous. It gets really messy in the puddle, and the puddle can be deep, it can be long, and it may take us a while to slog through it (because we want it to, or because that’s just how big that puddle is). Puddles can be unpredictable and scary, and we may love the risk-taking involved in challenging ourselves to enter them. Alas, our favorite puddle may not be there tomorrow, and so perhaps the temporary nature of the puddle may also call to us. I also think part of the attraction to the puddle — for toddlers, and for learners– is that going through them can be fun and ultimately pretty rewarding.
Power to the puddles is what my toddler has taught me this time. Embrace the ambiguity and messiness of the puddle (of learning, or unlearning, or re-learning), and head into it, push through it, and come out better for it. We will be soaked and mud-caked, perhaps, but we will experience something qualitatively more meaningful that the puddle-avoiders will never get to know.
e.e. cummings had it right: the world is puddle-wonderful. Where will your next puddle-hunt take you?
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