Shiny. New. But quickly fleeting. Giving way to layers upon layers of dirt, grass stains, and memories. If discovered one day by an anthropologist, a child’s sneakers should tell a story — a beautiful, fun-filled story of life and laughter. A tale that conveys a thousand memories of play — the cornerstone of childhood.
The anthropologist should see an area over the big toe, warn and stained from kicking rocks embedded in the dirt. A grass stain or three from rolling down a hill and tripping while playing tag. Scuff marks from the rough bark of a favorite climbing tree. The sneakers should be peppered with water marks from playing in or near a creek or pond. And their soles should be scribbled with the names of best friends written in pen, and even a doodle or two. That, my friends, is a pair of sneakers to be proud of! That is a pair of sneakers worthy of childhood.
You see, childhood, like sneakers, was meant to be messy. If a child’s sneakers are not worn to the point of shambles, then something is amiss. Sneakers nor children get messy when they stay inside too much — playing video games, surfing the web, or attending academic enrichment programs. Children need to be free to be kids. To run and jump. To fall down and get back up again. To explore the nooks and crannies of the natural world, to engage their curiosity, and to play and then play some more.
Take a look at the sneakers of the kids in your world. Do they still look a little too new? It’s time to change that, my friends. My challenge to you is this: let them get dirty. Messy. MUDDY — the kids and their sneakers! Think of that anthropologist, and astound them. Show them that in 2009, we can still do childhood proud.
Now, my sneakers are not nearly messy enough. It’s time I took care of that. How about yours?!
See ya outside! – The Grass Stain Guru