He smiled and caught my eye, wonder and joy and excitement shining from within.
He lifted his face toward the sky, feeling the warm, steady rain on his face.
And he twirled an umbrella—bright blue, with a duck handle—in his hand. He didn’t hold it over his head; it was perpendicular, out to the side.
A prop, rather than a utensil.
I’ve had that umbrella for nearly a decade.
It’s a hideous joke, something my husband and I bought in a downpour on our way to a rainy baseball game. It was the last remaining umbrella for sale in a drugstore in Manhattan. And, despite our best efforts, we haven’t managed to lose it since.
But now it’s our son’s.
A beloved toy.
As I balanced on the tailgate of my SUV, I fought my mother’s urge to take him inside and dry him off. To get his dinner ready. To rest my aching back and weary feet on the sofa.
Play is the work of children. And children should play in the rain.
My husband and I looked at each other, knowledge and laughter in our eyes.
So we watched him, his light hair curling in the damp, as he focused intently.
He set the umbrella aside, upside down.
He crouched down and poked his finger in the puddles on the driveway. They were ponds, he said. And little ducks lived in them.
A toddler’s imagination at work.
For an instant, I remembered what it’s like to play with abandon in the rain.
To jump from puddle to puddle.
To experiment with an umbrella, rather than depend on one to keep you dry.
To welcome the wetness, not run from it.
To live solely in the present, never worrying about the future
And to find simple beauty in your driveway on a dreary afternoon.