At a park playdate last week, one of Sawyer's friend's moms brought along some diggers that the kids used to dig in the dirt at the base of all the trees. We came home covered in dirt, on the clothes, in the hair, under the finger and toenails. But it was so worth it! They loved it. I loved it.
Sawyer's description of what they were doing was "dig yuck-yuck". "Yuck-Yuck" has become our all purpose term for anything you are not supposed to touch because it's dirty. It started with mud, and has expanded to include pooh, food on the floor, and dirt in general. For a long time, perhaps due to my overzealous effort to have him avoid the mud below the bench at our local outdoor basketball court, he needed A LOT of encouragement to touch or even walk on dirt.
Recently we've had a breakthrough though. I can't tell you how excited I was to see him helping in the garden with no gloves on. Happily picking rocks out of the soil and putting them in a bucket. And he's started picking up balls that roll into the dirt without pausing to look at me and see if it's okay. A big improvement from refusing to get the ball at all. And he's even touched several worms.
So why the big turn around? I think it has to do with seeing other people having fun in the dirt. I've been busy digging compost into the soil, planting our garden, and enlisting his help in short bursts. When he woke up from his nap on several days in May, I greeted him with my shirt and socks covered in dirt (apparently Crocs weren't really designed for gardening). We've also been going to Farm Tots at the South 47 Farm (www.south47farm.com), where he's been touching dirt while planting starts of chinese brocoli, walla walla sweet onions, and lettuce which are now growing in our garden. And he got to make a "worm purse" and bring a worm from the farm home to our garden.
I guess what I realized is that there's no better way to show them that dirt is not always "yuck-yuck" than getting down and dirty with them in your own yard, at the park, or on the farm.