I’m not much one for making new year resolutions. I consistently vow to lose weight every December 31 and by January 2, Captain Pavlova and his dastardly crew of whipped cream have sunk their anchor into my resolve.
But on January 1, we drove out to Wellington, a small acre-plot-laden outpost near the Murray River, just out of Murray Bridge. There, friends of ours had a property with a tin shed plopped at the front that they use for holidays. It’s dusty out there, hay-bunnies list idly between derelict sheds and Rob’s engineering “projects”. There is a lonely play set near the shed, surrounded by yellowing weed-driven grass. The barrenness is both wonderful and isolating.
But my new year resolution became clear as I watched Scout and Inky court Rob and Ruth’s 4 kids (all older than both of them). They made punch in the retro drink machine inside the cluttered tin shed. They drew snails and flowers on the bunk-beds crammed into one of 3 annexes. They ran wild in the paddocks, tripping over tent pegs and bull ants. At the end of the day, even after several hours clamouring for space on the speedboat or the Wake Snake (oh wait, that was me) and immersing themselves in the sandy heaven of the Murray, they were dirty as f*ck.
I’d usually shudder at the filth that was caked all over their feet and hands and little bodies. In a fit of urbanised pique, I’d usually avail myself of an entire packet of wipes just to clean them up. But I didn’t. As we ferried them to the car around 8.30 pm, the kids’s tiredness and dirtiness sort of melted into 2 joyful piles of sleepy brown.
Don’t worry about the dirt. Don’t stress about the sand-dunes forming on the car floor. Be more free-range. Get dirtier. Sound more like a Radiohead song.
Perfection is the enemy of childhood. I resolve to remind myself of that whenever things don’t go to plan.
And cherish those dirty little feet every single day.