Spring rains had arrived. Puddles were everywhere. Bennie put on his rubber boots and jacket. He was going outside to play.
“Please be careful,” Mother admonished, “and don’t go far!”
“Ok,” Bennie answered. Once outside, he looked for the nearest water puddle.
Every little boy loves to jump up and down in a water puddle. Why not? Water splashes in all directions, it makes loud noises and you never know who else might get wet. Jumping in a water puddle is fun!
What every little boy doesn’t know is what happens when the water puddle is deep and muddy and when you jump up and down and one foot gets stuck in the cold, brown mud and the other foot gets stuck in the cold, brown mud and as you take a step, one foot comes out of your boot and with the next step, the other foot comes out of the other boot and there you are standing in the puddle with no boots, and you are cold and wet. Bennie turned to see his boots, still upright, still dry inside, and still stuck in the mud, just like he had taken them off and set them down. Bennie bent down and grabbed the closest boot. He tugged and tugged and slowly, the mud gave way and his first boot was free. Then he grabbed the second boot, tugged and tugged, and slowly, the mud gave way and the second boot was free. The cold water was numbing, and his teeth started to chatter. He couldn’t stop it. He knew he had to move, fast. He was freezing.
Bennie, a boot in each hand, slowly made his way out of the mud hole and up to the grass. He was tippy, but he didn’t fall. He couldn’t feel his feet anymore – he just knew he had to keep going. He decided it might be better if he didn’t go straight home. Instead, he would knock on Mrs. Appleby’s door.
Standing in his muddy socks, boots in hand, Mrs. Appleby got the picture right away.
“Come in, child, before you catch your death of cold,” she said. Mrs. Appleby was old-fashioned, but very kind.
“You sit right here,” she said, pulling up a wooden chair. Within minutes, Mrs. Appleby had his dirty socks off and his feet in a basin of lukewarm water. As the circulation slowly returned, his feet turned red and felt quite itchy. Then it was time for fresh water and soap. Finally, she dried his feet with a clean towel and fitted Bennie with a pair of new hand-knitted socks, in navy blue, his favourite colour. You see, Mrs. Appleby loves to knit – mittens, socks, winter hats and baby outfits, and she always has a supply on hand for the next important occasion. After being served a fresh-baked chocolate cookie and a glass of milk, Bennie, wearing his new blue socks, put his boots back on, thanked Mrs. Appleby and made his way back home. Mrs. Appleby insisted on keeping the old socks to be laundered.
When Bennie got home, Mommy asked, “You were gone a long time. I was about to start looking for you.” “Me too,” said Daddy, “where were you?” “We were worried.”
Bennie had a big story to tell. Mommy and Daddy listened to all of the details. Finally, Daddy bent down, looked at Bennie and said gently, ‘That was very kind of Mrs. Appleby, but you should have come straight home.”
“I was afraid,” Bennie offered, “I didn’t know what you’d say.”
“Well, next time something happens, don’t be afraid. We love you, don’t you know? You can tell us everything that happens. We want to be the first to know. We love you,” said Daddy.
“Ok”, said Bennie, as a tiny tear showed up in the corner of one eye. “I love you, too, Daddy. And I love Mommy, and Wynnie and Jasmine – and everybody I can think of”
High five, Bennie? High five, Daddy!