She has never seen rain before. She was too young to know when it rained last summer.
So, this year was her first and it came on big. A thunderstorm that caused flash flooding and commuter problems, making me grateful to be at home when it happened. Big drops of rain fell heavily on the floor balcony, making splashes of little puddles and bringing in leaves and twigs from the nearby trees. Occasionally, the wind blew the water on to the glass doors and she jerked back as it washed down.
“MaLe (rain)! Mama, maLe (rain)!“, she yelled with joy.
She’d just learnt that word and was super-excited to use it. Within minutes, she decided that the splashing water was too much fun to merely watch through the glass.
“Mama, open!“, she said as she tried to slide the door to the balcony. “Outside“, she clarified, pointing to the water. “Me, water!”
“No baby, you can’t go outside. You can watch it from here”
“Mama, open! Outside. Water. Play. Mama, open, mama! Open, mama“, she continued incessantly.
It broke my heart to refuse but she was still recovering from a cold. Anyway, there was no way I’d let a toddler go out in that thunderstorm, even if she weren’t sick. The winds were strong enough to blow away a petite child like her.
As she chucked a tantrum, I was struggling with myself. I wanted to say yes but I couldn’t. I remembered how much I loved playing in the rain as a child. She was thrilled and I knew she would have loved getting wet in the rain. I know that I will take her out in the rain someday and play with her. Just not now. How do I explain that to a toddler?
After some cuddling, explaining and distraction, she relented. She watched the rain settle, from the living room. I watched her look longingly out of the window and promised myself that she would experience it one day. When she is older and physically more resilient. I had forgotten how much fun that is.
Somewhere during adulthood, my reaction to the rains changed. Rain now usually means leaving the office early, picking her up from daycare and getting indoors before the clouds burst. Thunderstorms means catching that last train home before the tracks flood and train stations lose power. When at home, I hope the windows don’t shatter and electricity isn’t cut off. If it’s a steady rain, I drink a cup of tea and watch the rains, thinking about people on the roads and glad to be indoors. On windy days, I hope the neighbour’s trees won’t come crashing down on us. I pray that hail manages to stay in the balcony and spare my windows.
Today, she brought back memories of days when I’d fling open the balcony doors and run into the wet weather. I’d be in my clothes, swirling around and looking at the skies as water fell fast and furious on my face. Growing up, thunder and lightning were faraway things to be enjoyed. Hail meant collecting ‘ice’ in steel tumblers and buckets. When much younger, we ‘ate’ the ‘ice’. As we grew older, we decided that the water might be too polluted for consumption. It didn’t stop us from collecting it. As adulthood caught up with me, enjoying the rain became an indoor thing. I have a feeling that this summer things may be different.