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Puddlism

In a Facebook Group last week, I posted a photograph of an extraordinary frozen puddle. A lady in the group, Dawn Williams suggested that we might need the wisdom of a ‘Puddlist’ to explain its magic.

Puddle Jumping
Photographer: Rupert Britton | Source: Unsplash

There then ensued a discussion about being a Puddlist and although we both felt it was a brilliant word, we had to admit that we didn’t know any. It was only after a while that I realised, in reality, I knew hundreds because of course the best Puddlists are right in front of us in Early Years — children.

Children are natural Puddlists. It’s as though they and puddles are the human equivalent of moths and flames. I’ve often thought that puddles act as magnets to children’s fascinations, these temporary spaces that pop up and welcome little feet to explore. Even the smallest puddle can attract children’s attention — it’s as though puddles unlock something powerful held within the mindscape of childhood. It’s this that got me thinking about Puddlism and what it means for us as educators who are adventuring in the magic of children.

When was the last time you spontaneously and deliberately put your feet into a puddle, not when you were with children but when you were by yourself or with your peers?

When was the last time your feet entered a puddle, and you felt the absolute joy of being in the world?

I can probably predict that it was many years ago. I can do this because as we ‘grow up’ puddles no longer hold magic for us, instead offering struggle and becoming things to be navigated round, stepped over or avoided altogether. We see the struggle, not the joy.

Children however see the exact opposite. Puddlism offers infinite possibilities, from the sensation of breaking a puddle’s calm surface to the sound of splashing as boots or bare feet enter the water and throw it outwards, only for the water to retreat back and reform, to be splashed in once more. It’s as though, as Puddlists, children have innate divining rods within them, able to seek out even the smallest gathering of water and begin to play, mentally (and sometimes physically!) immersing in it.

Puddlism tells us much about childhood. It reveals how childhood sees the world as a playground, how play can be the Great Unknown beyond the limitations of ‘Children Will’ type planning or ‘activity’ and that play itself is a mystery that we have the privilege to be part of and, immerse in too.

And that is because Puddlism is an invitation to join the magic of children. Whether it be energetic splashing or the quiet repose of daydreamingly puddle-poking to create ripples, transporting their contents or floating little boats, puddles offer us a door into childhood.

Photographer: Aidan Cheung | Source: Unsplash

These momentary pools of water are before us like they have emerged from The Wood Between The Worlds, not only capable of taking us to new worlds but changing how we see this one that stands before us. As Puddlists, children can teach us to see the world again. They show us that as adults, we live in a state of ‘play amnesia’ – we have perhaps forgotten the joy of being a child and with each moment of Puddlism we are being reminded that we can find it once more.

The joy of Puddlism can be ours. Play does not belong solely to children — it’s why I’m so passionate about co-play and the adventure that we can have with children when we become the World of Good Things around them. Perhaps this is Puddlism’s greatest power beyond its strong pull for childhood. If we allow it to, Puddlism can pull on us too and bring us out of our play amnesia so that we too may enter the play-full world of childhood.

Don’t worry about soggy socks or getting wet, let go of self-consciousness and step in. It is often the latter that can hold us back and Puddlism invites you just to let go. And why? Because in reality Puddlism is play and it is play that calls you to join it.

The World needs more Puddlism and perhaps, just maybe, it’s time to unleash your Inner Puddlist; childhood will thank you for it.

Now, where are my wellies...?

Curious Question: When are you next going to be a Puddlist?

Greg Bottrill is the author of “Can I Go Play Now”

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