Roll on Summer.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for letting the kids jump in puddles, but it gets to the point where light splashing is not enough - not for them anyway. They have to find one deep enough to wade through. And that's still not enough. They've gotta get their limbs in there; scooping up handfuls of mud and dripping it from one palm to the other, smearing muck to the elbows, The Lily Bug likes to explore the texture of mud with her entire body. In particular, her hair. Give her a storm-fed puddle as a palette, and she stands on her head and transforms into a human paint brush.
She did attempt a headstand in the mud during this particular adventure, but I missed the shot as I was already halfway back to the car calling "come on before I leave you behiiiind!" along the way.
What I really really hate about this kind of fun? The part where it becomes unfun. The part where it becomes one of those waking nightmares you can't shake off for the rest of the day. Yup. The part where mucky monsters have to get clean again.
For the highly-volatile Lily Bug, this becomes a Total. Meltdown. Nightmare. By the time we get on to the clean up, she's tuned out the world and she's in 'The Zone'. You know that tired zone that is usually a precursor to a full-scale over-tired screaming fit? It's at this point, our fun-loving three year old transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West.
There's kicking, there's screaming, there's the gnashing of teeth... Halfway through the ordeal I'm declaring "we are never EVER playing in mud again" and by the end I'm all but begging my poor devil-possessed child to stop with the screaming and clawing and thrashing because I am in fact a wee bit afraid that the neighbours will think something godawful is going on in the house, and call the cops.
At least in summer, a water fight can solve the issue of clean up time.
In summer, the messy play table can be moved outside so I don't have to spend an hour scrubbing floury watery goop off the kitchen walls. The muck is cleaner; less water-logged rugby field and more soggy sandpit.
Roll on Summer.
This was last summer. The clampit was filled with lovely soft Pinaki sand on one side and water on the other, then mixed to create a diarrhea-brown ooze that we (or rather, they) spent every available day wallowing in. Clean up time was garden hose simple.