Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"You Won't Melt"

I lived my own preschool years in places that weren't built on former rain forests. It wasn't exactly like rain was a novelty, but it also wasn't the kind of day-after-day drizzle like we get for months on end in the Pacific Northwest. When the kids complained, however, mom would reply, "You're sweet, but you're not made of sugar. You won't melt." And it's true, no one has ever melted in the rain: rain makes things wet, perhaps slippery, but it only makes us miserable when we're out in it wearing the wrong clothing. 

I've been a "weather watcher" for most of my adult life: first because I was a baseball coach and now because I teach at a school that values outdoor play. Baseball is a sport rendered dangerous by rain, which is why games are cancelled due to the stuff, but school is a different matter. Aside from a few art projects that involve tissue paper, or science experiments that require, say, fire, there isn't much that rain can cancel, and it greatly enhances many other things.

Back when our cast iron water pump was a temporary installation, we, as a matter of course, wouldn't set it up in the rain, the adults assuming that the kids wouldn't dig on wet-on-wet play, but we were wrong. If anything, the pump becomes more popular when the kids are geared up for the weather.

Rain is not "nasty" or "bad" or "miserable" weather, but that's all too often how we adults speak of it amongst ourselves, accidentally "selling" our prejudices to our children. We hunker down, huddle up, worry about our hair, run for cover, and generally under-dress for it. We write children's books in which the characters are sad because it's raining and they can't go out to play. (Seriously, this is such a problem in storybooks: rain is either cause for boredom or despair, or if kids do play in it, they are somehow "naughty" and get scolded by parents. I'm always on the look out for books that either celebrate rain or treat it as a matter of course. If you know any titles, please leave them in the comments.) It's no wonder that some kids balk at the doorway when they see raindrops.

I suppose I'm thinking about rain because it's been awhile since we've seen any around here. These are typically our dry months and I do enjoy not having to wear a jacket every day. I like wearing sandals and short sleeves. And yes, I'll confess to taking some pleasure in the novelty of not feeling slightly damp all the time.

Yesterday, some of the kids were complaining it was too hot (it might have "soared" up to 70 by the end of our morning session) and too bright. Somehow it delighted me. When Silas complained to me, I consciously echoed mom's words, "You're sweet, but you're not ice cream. You won't melt."

And he answered, "I might."

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Anonymous said...

Do you have Rain Talk by Mary Serfozo? It is one of my favorite celebrations of playing in the rain.

Anonymous said...

No book suggestions, but I do work on using the song "Singing in the Rain" rather than "Rain, Rain Go Away."

Lisa said...

"One Rainy Day" is a good one. I can't remember who wrote it but it has a duck on the cover and starts off something like "duck loves the rain. One rainy day means..." and it talks about all the fun things about rainy days (mud puddles, worms, rainbows, etc)

Jenny said...

Are you familiar with Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse? The illustrations are by Jon J Muth and are gorgeous.

Kerry said...

In the book _The Other Side_, by Jacqueline Woodson, one of the characters has to stay inside when it rains, but the other gets to go outside and dance and stomp in puddles. I sing "Rain, rain, come and stay; flowers need a drink today." Here in dry Northern California, rain tends to be an unusual and special event most years.

Amy said...

I love Come on Rain by Karen Hesse. Even the mamas go out to play in the rain.

Unknown said...

We have been having a lot of rainy days this summer. I also LOVE them! I don't like that we can't go swimming though, because the kids have such a wonderful time at the pool! I took the kids to the park the other day when it was raining slightly and they had so much fun. This afternoon I am taking them on a scavenger hunt at the mall. I can't wait to go home from work and get started!

Lise said...

Oh, yes, I agree about the can't-play-in-the-rain-books! I was also going to suggest "Come On, Rain!" and also:
Peter Spier's Rain,
Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems,
Mudigush by Kimberley Knutson.

Anonymous said...

I recommend 'Big Rain Coming'by Katrina Germein. Set in outback australia with illustrations by indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft. Quite lovely and celebrates rain as a drought ends

Susan P said...

It is the start of monsoon season here in the desert of Tucson, Az and my kids are loving it. They sing a song from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood that goes something like Rain, rain is here today. Let's go ouside so we can play! Instead of rain,rain go away... Unfortunately other episodes of the show so portray rain as a bad thing.

Susan P said...

I forgot my book recommendation! Here is a favorite of ours - kids playing in the rain with great pictures and lyrical writing. It is called Rain Play by Cynthia Cotten.