This was the perfect ending to an afternoon of fun in the park.
After eating ice cream, running along the waterfront, going wild on the play equipment, throwing rocks in the water and scaring the seagulls, this was the icing on the cake: sitting and playing in the mud.
The dirty little fingers tell it all: any toy would be given a run for its money by some humble mud, stones and sticks.
This is such a recurrent pattern with children. Retailers and merchandisers should be glad that most of us parents are too daft or too lazy to notice it. We will spend a fortune on toys while the kid would rather be jumping in puddles or making castles from mud.
We will give him toys that only have one dimension of use, and miss the myriad of possibilities he finds in a pile of sticks. We replace the tree in the yard with a plastic swingset, and forget that he has just lost a living classroom.
We miss so much; we need to learn to pay attention.