The more independent my preschooler becomes, the more I actively try to step out of his way and let him spread his wings.  He has a naturally cautious temperament and is not one to dive into new situations.  This summer, he has been growing bolder, and I am trying to encourage him as much as I can.

One area where I have been working on stepping back is in allowing him to get messy.  That may seem silly, but it’s easy to fuss at our kids about staying clean.  After all, we don’t want them to ruin their clothes or make a whole bunch of clean up work for us. But kids need to explore.  They need to experiment with the world around them.  We sometimes have to impose limits for their safety, but we don’t need to impose limits that are merely for our convenience.  If you want a life of convenience, parenthood is not the life for you.

My kids clothes are 90% hand-me-downs and we have two nice big rooms with tile flooring, so we’re not worrying about staining stuff, spilling paint, tracking in mud, or the like.  His shoes are washable — I know, having washed and dried them many times in the past few months — and it turns out that preschoolers themselves are pretty washable, too.

The only thing I can’t get off this guy after a messy, muddy day: that smile.

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