When the sun finally breaks free from behind the clouds, silver reflections across the rain, gathered in the ground, brilliantly sparkle, bouncing back the rays now pouring from above. The earth smells clean and damp and renewed, refreshed by the day’s early downpour. Droplets gather on the leaves, and the birds begin to make their way back out from the refuge, singing their songs, rejoicing in the reclaimed light.
The beauty that remains after an early spring shower makes you forget all about the stress that comes from rainy days on the road. Growing up in Southern California, drivers tend to forget all that they’ve learned from years of experience as soon as tiny droplets come forth from the sky. Drivers, especially those in SUVs, seem to be terrified, as though their wheels will certainly lift from the road, sending them into a spiral, leading to their damp demise. White knuckles grip their steering wheels for dear life, tired wipers waving like angry arms: back and forth, back and forth.
As luck would have it today, I spent minimal time in the car while it was raining. My commute to work, a measly 4 miles, means I have very little to worry about, even in the worst of downpours.
Counting my chickens before they hatch, I still managed to find myself soaked at two separate occasions. The first was during a walking tour at the local high school. An annual tradition, busloads of our eighth-grade students journey to preview their home for the next four years. Mother Nature cared not for our human plans, and the clouds gathered in an angry cluster, gray and furious and full of rain, colluding to obstruct what five minutes prior, held the sun in full force. Caught without shelter, it was all I can do to hurry my pace, skipping from one awning to another in a fickle attempt to keep myself dry, all while bounding between adolescents.
Stubborn and proud, the sun could not be upstaged for too long, the true star in any day’s show, its rays peering from behind the storm’s curtains. During the length of today’s performance however I spent the majority of my time indoors, coveting the warmest part of the morning and afternoon. After and afternoon spent in the IEP meeting from hell, and finally making my way towards home, the clouds again proved to be a formidable opponent. As it began to pour, harder than it did earlier in the day, I pulled into my mother-in-law’s driveway to pick up both my toddler and my seven-month-old puppy, both of whom have an affinity for the rain. Timing, as you know, is everything.
In spite of my lack of patience, weathered by a far too long Thursday, the two of them acted like the rain was the best thing that ever happened. After struggling to get the dog in the backseat of the car onto the precariously placed towel, the one meant to protect my seat (prior to her scratching and pushing it off), the time arrived to corral Ezra. Before I could gather him in my arms and load him in to his car seat, his eyes lit up, reflecting the concrete surface, slick with rainwater, in front of him.
Pooled about three inches deep, gathered in an indent in the driveway, deliciously tempting in its splash-worthiness, lay a puddle. Magnets to children, these nature-made spills beckon to be jumped upon. Droplets fell into the puddle, creating ripples, widening in concentric, outward circles. Mischievously splashed across Ezra’s face, a smile spreads.
He’s going to jump.
Finicky me, a dirty wet child means a cleaning, drying parent. I looked down at his feet and see that he is appropriately clad in his waterproof shoes, the ones I put on him knowing he is going to step in mud, dig in dirt, or get generally filthy. Designed specifically to be washed and cleaned easily, they are my obsessive-compulsive dream.
Compressed with in the millisecond of parental decision making, I nodded his way. “Go ahead,” I encouraged, ” Jump.” He gives me a look of disbelief, unsure that he heard correctly. “Jump!” I say more loudly, practically yelling over the beating rain, almost begging my child to do what I know he wants to.
Arms swinging, ankles pressed together, Ezra swings his arms back-and-forth, preparing for his bodily trajectory. From the moment he rises from the ground and begins his grand journey, I can tell it’s going to end in a monumental splash.
A wave of wetness rises from the ground, reaching me at about chest height, covering Ezra. Like the torrential downpour of rain, an outburst of laughter more refreshing than the spring storm, poured from his mouth.
Spring splashes make for incredibly joyful moments with my child.
Moments later, I am buckling him into the car, very wet a little worse for the wear. My body only halfway in the backseat, my legs continue to get pelted by the downpour.
“Dad,” he lets out with a grin, “That was the best splash ever!”
After today’s literal and figurative rainstorms, most restorative and healing was letting my kid be a kid, and having the fatherly intuition to do so. It only took one jump into nature’s smallest of lakes: the puddle. That was perhaps the most refreshing moment to be had during (or after) a rainstorm