Dirt Don’t Hurt

I’m with them.


My dear children, I’ve been thinking about dirt.


Before our move last year, you didn’t get dirty often. We lived in a world of pavement, walking from roads to sidewalks to concrete slabs. Our dirt was buried under beautiful, lush, green grass or sweetly covered with wood chips.


It never snuck its way between our toes or underneath the nails, creating brown crescents of grime.


Nowadays, we are surrounded by dirt. We live on the ashes of ancient volcanos and have cinder dust flying through the air almost constantly. Our home is surrounded by dirt on every side, nary a poured concrete walkway nor carefully-placed set of pavers to be found.


You like to go barefoot. Each night I look at your feet and shudder. They are grungy and show flip-flop lines of encrusted muck. It’s gross. Truly. I send you into the bathtub and holler at you to scrub behind your ears and between your toes. {Dirt!}


You come out clean most of the time. But sometimes you just outlast the cotton candy-scented bath bubbles, play pretend games, and spill a layer of water across the bathroom floor.


I hate the dirt. It has been the symbol of my defeat against the war of cleanliness, housekeeping, and orderliness.


Dirt. {I raise my hands to the air and shake my fists!} Dirt!


But this year we took family pictures of you in our dirt-filled back yard, sporting overalls and darkened toes, shiny smiles and a smudgy nose.


What does that dirt mean?


In a bigger picture, a mountaintop view where dirt isn’t simply the breakdown of solid matter but representative of a life lesson, I realize I’m glad you’re learning to play in the messy.


I want you to understand that life isn’t always clean and orderly, coated with cultivated landscaping. A real life, a life that is lived to the fullest – it has the high highs and the low lows.


Real life has its moments of awesome, breathtaking beauty… followed all too soon by bone-crushing weariness and soul-searching confusion. {Dirt!}


If you can learn to play, laugh, and grow in the midst of the messiness you will find yourself in a grand adventure, one that will delight and consume you, one that will draw people to you like a moth to flame.


Those dirt-encrusted feet? They drive your mother insane and leave naughty footprints against the white porcelain of the bath tub but they are the marks of a fully-experienced day. They remind me to encourage you to be authentic.


There are no starkly perfect people in this world. Every person has issues. Some issues are visible like the grubbiness on your bare feet, other issues get covered in a pair of pantyhose and three-inch high heels, hoping that others will fall for the illusion of perfection, desperately hoping no one will look closely enough to see flaws. {Dirt!}


My dear children, please don’t ever live a life of fear, hiding the tricky parts of your personality in a frantic hope no one will look hard enough at you to see the imperfection! I pray you are surrounded by people who will love you despite — and maybe even because! — of your smudges.


Your imperfections make you valuable, real, authentic. They cause your mother to shake her head and say, with a fond, bewildered smile, “He certainly broke the mold when He made you!” But please hear, despite my constant nagging, I am proud of you. I wouldn’t trade you, with all your head-strong, heart-hurting sassiness! I love you because you are a challenge. I love you because you’re not perfect. {Dirt!}


Help me remember that, my dear ones, on the days when I get consumed by how many times the floor must be swept, or that the new throw rugs are turning gray, that the dirt wouldn’t be tracked into the house if we weren’t venturing out into the great unknown to experience life.


Remind me of the value of dirt, that it is good and significant, on the days I sigh loudly because the Hello, Kitty! bath bubbles have disappeared and left a brown ring on that white tub.


Remind me that dirty feet are equal to strong immunity… that a day spent outdoors in fantastic play is a day that nourishes the spirit… that the dusty plants can be brushed clean and the gritty bedsheets washed… that a streak of dirt is no match for a modern-day washing machine and a dollop of OxyClean.




Now, go! Play!


This post was originally published October 18, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



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One thought on “Dirt Don’t Hurt

  • July 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Loved this one the second time around too. It reminded me that I need to let my daughter know that through my constant correcting I think she’s pretty cool- dirt and all. Thanks


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