Sometimes you just have to get dirty


The little girl sat at the top of the hill, hands gripped tightly around the handlebars of the plastic tricycle.

She had been double-dog dared. She knew this challenge went beyond backyard politics. It was a full-on war that she was determined to win.

Shoving her bare feet into the loose dirt, she gave herself a slight budge. She was facing down a hill the size of an Indian mound in her mind. The steep angle did not phase her.

She had been double-dog dared.

Throwing her fear to the side, she shoved herself down that hill. The plastic wheel bounced with every hit of a mole-hole down that grassy hill. The wind shot into her eyes with such force that small tears began to slide down her face. Down, down, she went.

Until…she crashed into a hole of brown, grassy mud that shot around her so fierce it went up her nose, into her mouth and even in her ears.

She toppled off that plastic tricycle with leaves in her hair and mud covering her entire body. Standing up, perhaps for an arrogant stride, she looked to her spectators who stood with their mouths opened in surprise.

She had been double-dog dared. And she answered the call.

She always does.

That fierce daredevil was my daughter Elsie. Thanks to a few rain showers and a steep hill in our backyard, an instant slippery slide was created much to the enjoyment of all three of my children.

I let them spend hours riding their bikes, tricycles, Big Wheels and more down that treacherous slope of muddy heaven. Mind you, I hosed them naked in the backyard before I let them inside. But for a few hours each day, while the mud puddle held water, they were kids of yesteryears. And it was wonderful.

The iPads and video games were forgotten about those few days. Their faces were not glued to the glow of a screen. Their faces were streaked with mud from a mudhole that might as well have been the mighty Mississippi in their eyes.

It did my heart good to see those kids just being kids; dirty kids. And although I have a ring in my bath tub, the fun was well worth it.

That night at supper, my family told the tales of all the dares, challenges and feats met during those mud baths. There was no arguing over whose turn it was to have a video game. It was laughter and a little bit of eye rolling as those kids recalled that day.

That good day…when a little mud, a big hill and a double-dog dare let a kid be a kid.

And I bet Elsie’s view at the top of that hill was magnificent. Not a care in the world and a pit of fun waiting at the bottom. All it took was a little push.