To the man who criticized me when my kids danced in the rain:
The other night I was at a restaurant in Florida with my husband, kids, and in-laws. It was a lovely evening; the food was good. However, the wait was long, and the kids were being… kids. Jetlagged (we were visiting Florida; we live in Israel), cranky, irritable, bored, and kinda hyper to boot.
They had eaten their fries and burgers, and, while we grown-ups finished our meal, the kids (22 months, 5, 7, and 11 years old) began to run around outside the enclosed area. There were some fountains with a pool and some bridges, benches, and lots of open area. But, not much else—and no one else. Basically a perfect play area, and, even better, I could see them from my table so I didn’t have to chase after them.
It was idyllic. Listening to the sounds of their squeals of joy, I watched them chase each other in an impromptu game of hide and seek. It was a moment of pure parental nachas.
Then, it began to rain.
Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Israeli climate, rain is a big deal. Being a desert area, there isn’t a lot of rain. Certainly never in the summer. And certainly never when it is warm enough to be outside.
It was an unadulterated treat for the kids. When the first drops started to fall, uncertainty crossed my 22-month old’s face. But, as he saw the joy with which my other children started yelling, “Rain! Rain!” all doubts melted and he threw himself into the experience like the others.
As the intensity of the rain grew, so did their joy. My husband and I laughed seeing the sheer joy that one gets from dancing in the rain.
“Umm, excuse me, ma’am. Are those your children playing out there?” a stranger said with quite the Mahnchester* accent.
“Yes, they are,” I responded.
“Don’t you think they are kind of young to be running around like that?” he questioned.
“Well, I am watching them, and their big sister is with them,” I responded.
“It’s raining,” he declared.
“Yes, it is.”
With a raised eyebrow, he countered, “So, let me get this straight: It is raining, and you are letting your children dahnce in the rain?”
His fellow English-people turned in unison to look at me. Their looks of shock, curiosity, disappointment, and disapproval made it clear that they did not approve of what I was doing either.
“Isn’t he a bit young? Aren’t you afraid that he’ll get wet?” (They were in the rain—duh.)
“Honestly, I think this is quite irresponsible of you. Your poor children, they’ll get a chill. You must put them in the bath right away. You must stop them!”
At this point, I just ignored him.
Where this man saw drenched children, I saw children happy and free. Where he saw clothes clinging to their skin, I saw joyful splashing. As their squeals increased, so did his comments.
Where is the freedom that kids used to have? I remember playing in the rain in our yard, barefoot, with the grass sticking to our ankles and toes. I don’t remember my or my friends’ parents ever worrying about us getting wet.
I wanted my children to have that. I want my children to have the same sense of freedom that I had growing up. While I would ride my bike for hours and only come home at sunset, few children today know the giddy freedom of play and adventure that can only be had on their own.
So, they played. Oh, did they play. And when it was time to leave, Mr. Mahnchester asked me if I was going to let my little one drive. After all, I let him loose and unsupervised for so long.
No, sir. He was not let loose, he was frolicking. No, sir. He was not unsupervised, my eyes never left him. He just felt a freedom that I believe every child should have.
Also, Mr. Mahnchester, for someone who hails from England, I would have expected less of a reaction about rain. But, whatever.
That’s your problem.
And, yes, they all got a nice warm bath when we got home.
*This article is in no way a reflection of how I, or the website, feels about the wonderful people of Manchester England, or any other English people or those of any other nation, for that matter.