Last weekend, my daughter and I had a ‘grubby’ day. The sun was shining, so we hung out in the backyard; I repotted some plants, she sunk her arms up to the elbows in potting mix; I watered the flowers, she dropped pebbles into a bucket of water and fetched them all out again; I hung out the washing, she crawled under the outdoor table, to eat grass and spread the dirt around with her hands.
Needless to say, after an hour or so she was absolutely filthy; hair, clothes, face, fingernails – everything. We washed up as best we could without jumping in the bath, and I gave her clothes a cursory wipe down (this was already the second outfit of the day).
Groceries needed to be bought, so off we went, smelling of fresh soil and happily sun-warmed. As usual, Aldi was busy, and, as I poked my daughter’s dirty feet through the foot holes of the trolley seat, I suddenly saw what other people might have seen: a poor neglected baby whose mother didn’t care enough to dress her in clean clothes or wash her hair. Did that other mum with the clean children stare at us disapprovingly? Was that old lady tut-tutting me, or was she just a grump?
Then, my daughter spotted a pigeon and pointed it our urgently, squealing ‘ooooh!’ with excitement, and suddenly I couldn’t care less what anybody assumed about us. Her happy face instantly made her grubby appearance a sign of fun, mess, exploration, vitality and discovery (as corny as that might sound).
I wheeled into Aldi, knowing exactly what I was going to say if anybody mentioned my grubby baby: ‘Yep. She’s been having so much fun today!’
We are both looking forward to the next sunny day.