My children have grown up with their hands in water. They are children of streams and creeks and lakes.
I have hundreds (thousands?) of pictures like these. My two girls crouched on rocks or sand or mud getting as close to the tempting water as possible.
We will tell them to not get wet—we’re hiking and we don’t have dry shoes and socks for them—and they will say okay.
They promise not to fall in.
They always fall in.
We always say, “Stay dry, please.”
They always say, “I accidentally fell in.”
This is our nature dance. We try to put a boundary on their learning and playing and exploring. They inch closer and closer to the edge, eventually fall in laughing, and we pretend to be shocked it happened.
No one is shocked.
No one cares.
There are rocks to collect, sticks to throw, frogs to catch.
There is mud to get stuck in, sandcastles to build, minnows to trap.
My children have grown up with their hands in water. They are children of ponds and oceans.
I have hundreds (thousands?) of pictures like these. Their backs hunched, the water calling to their toes, their dry pants, their little hands.
These pictures are their childhood, a constant pose as their bodies and the backgrounds change.
I am, as most people, more patient as I get older. I am less likely to hurry them from their mud now. I understand better that time is a thief and it is all going too fast.
I am willfully fighting against the clock. Not for my face or my neck or my back, but for my girls’ childhood. I am actively waging war on the world’s desire to make them grow up faster.
I will stay at the water’s edge with my girls until they tire, until they grow hungry and ask about lunch, until they are too wet and starting to chill, until they can’t feel their legs from squatting.
My children have grown up with their hands in water and as long as they keep returning to the banks, I will be there too.