It rained a lot this week. When I go to pick up elementary school children when it’s raining, mothers will stand on curbs with umbrellas covering the children. They will walk the children all the way to the bus doors so that their wee little ones don’t experience even a moment of rain. Curb lanes will be small rivers that children have to hop across to step onto the bus.
One mother wanted to be so sure that her kindergartner didn’t accidentally step down into the rushing water between curb and bus that she forwent the umbrella for a moment to lift her son the six inches from curb to bus. This was too much for my small friend. He squirmed and complained. The gap was so small that I don’t believe she did it because she thought he couldn’t. I think it was more because she knew the puddle jumping potential of that glorious curb lane might have been too enticing for him.
Something of my feelings over this behavior (of mom) must have shown on my face because she said to me, “Having wet socks in school all day is no fun.”
I’m a good sport and a friendly person so I smiled and nodded. Well I am a good sport and a friendly person but more importantly Christmas is coming and that particular bus stop of families gives generous Christmas gifts to the bus driver. Only like three people, INCLUDING my mother read this blog so I think I’m safe to tell you the truth.
I should not have smiled and nodded. I should have told ‘ol Dry Foot’s mom that there is great value in wet socks. This particular neighborhood has homes that all sell for seven figures. There is no disease or raw sewage in the rainwater running down their curb lanes. Her son’s feet were firmly encased in Under Armour shoes. So that removes the concern that him having wet feet all day could make him sick.
That’s it. That’s what she “saved” him from. And it came from a place of love. I’m sure it did. She is a sweet lady with sweet children (she did let her older son hop the gap himself). As parents, we would like to remove all discomfort from our children’s whole entire lives. And pain, suffering, sadness, or any other negative thing. But we can’t. What we can do is equip them with the skills to deal with it when it comes. How do we do that? By letting them do it.
When your parent or spouse or friend or anyone in your life warns you about doing something they think you shouldn’t do, does that always automatically make you not do the thing? Do you learn your own lessons by advice? Or do you have to experience the pain of a hot stove or a broken heart or an embarrassing situation where your own (wet or dry) foot ends up in your mouth? We learn our lessons by experiencing, feeling, living through the consequences of our actions.
Do you think my small friend will be tempted to puddle jump before school ever again? He has approximately twelve more years of regular school and rain is something that is likely to happen again, probably more than once.
This is going to sound crazy. But I wonder what would happen if she let him get wet socks and he had to go all day in them? I’ve come up with a few different theories.
- Nothing would happen. He’s five. He might not notice they are wet in the same way your eight year old who has blue lips and uncontrollable shivering doesn’t want to get out of the pool because she’s having too much fun.
- The wet socks annoy him slightly but the joy of jumping in the water was greater than the annoyance of wet socks. No biggie mom.
- They drive him crazy. His feet are rubbing weird in his shoes now and he can barely concentrate to make his painted pasta shape necklace. He’s irritable with the teacher and comes home grouchy. But next time it rains and he’s tempted to jump in the puddle while waiting for the school bus, he will remember this.
- This is the one I feel will be true no matter what: The socks will dry. Eventually.
These four theories I have come up with completely on my own. I was discussing this with a wonderful dear friend of mine and she had another to add. And by the way, she has two master’s degrees so she’s like super smart.
What if he gets the wet socks and whether it annoyed him or not, once he finally changes into clean, dry, warm socks he gets the clean, dry, warm sock feeling? You picture that for yourself right now. Oh yeah. Good right???
So not only does experiencing discomfort teach us life lessons about things we may or may not want to do but it teaches us gratitude for when we don’t have discomfort. And being grateful is the greatest gift you can instill in your children. Truly. Thanks Jen Monaldi!!