Forgotten Magic: How my Toddler Recovered my Wonder

*Author's Note: The following piece is written in narrative style - from third person perspective, though indeed I wrote it about my own experience with my toddler. Why the strange diversion? I've had friends encourage me to incorporate a little creative writing into my blog, and I thought this might be a good place to start. I'd love your comments or queries on how you think it turned out! (Be it poorly, or well!) Enjoy.


He crouched down like she did, on his small haunches, and stroked the long green grass, ‘soft as a pillow,’ she told him.

“See?” she said, “so soft!”

His blue eyes excitedly met hers and his tiny mouth spread into his usual massive grin. Toddlerish giggles escaped his throat and he stood up, scampering off to explore more of that plot of grass they stood in – small, but oh so big to him.

She grinned just as he had when he left her side; she loved the outdoors, too. When he was outside with her, the small things: rocks in a pile, a stray bug, occasional cars driving by, people walking to their mailboxes, birds flitting by, large leafy trees, and pinecones – little makeshift balls that bounce on pavement– were different. Bigger.

She sat down on the grass and hugged her knees with a smile to watch her little boy. Her trusty notebook and pen were beside her. Maybe she’d get a chance to write a sentence or two – but maybe not. Nevertheless, it was there, her companion for commemorating moments…

“Dat? Dat?” his little voice called out.

His chubby short arms and decided little finger pointed to a car driving by.

“Dat? Dat? Dat?”

She laughed out loud – she knew he wouldn’t stop questioning her until she answered him.

“Yes, sweetheart, that’s a car!”

He stood in silence watching it pass. So reverent, so watchful. She wasn’t even this reverent in church!

When the car disappeared around the bend, he turned to her with a distinctive smile and her heart gushed with love; that smile was always especially reserved for Mama! She laughed as he tossed a double chinned grin up at the overhanging tree limb and shot off with unbalanced enthusiasm towards the dirt at the trunk of the tree.

The breeze tickled her face, and she looked up at that large tree he was playing under, then down again at her notebook. Shadows from the piney foliage danced over her open page. She started to jot something down in her notebook, something about “branches tangoing with the wind,” and maybe “mingling with his little grin,” but her mini-man, always adventuring, yet rarely wary, was trotting off in another direction.

“Edmund,” she called, “Edmund, honey, that’s far enough. Stay over here!”

He turned and gave her another beaming smile as he ran towards her. And look, just look at that face…

When he reached her side he leaned forward, belly first, propping his small weight against her shoulder with another impish grin on his face. She had never seen such young eyes that spoke such volumes. Like novels… did hers tell stories, too?

“Why hello, little darling!” she giggled at him and kissed his head. His smile spread at her kiss, but his eyes darted around to survey the new surroundings. He spotted her pen and notebook. She knew what was coming!

He toddled around her knees, picked up her pen, and swiveled with a ‘plop’ onto her lap. He reached for the notebook with his little hand then expertly popped the cap off her pen and began scribbling.

She marveled that he sat in her lap to draw nothingness in such contentedness! It seemed, to her, that there was so much more somethingness in that nothingness than anything she could have jotted down.

“Wow, how beautiful!,” she exclaimed to him, “what a wonderful job you are doing!”

He talked as he drew in baby-babble. They watched cars go by, random people stroll back and forth, and birds float through the air - always talking about it, always seeing it together.

Her heart swelled as she realized how happy he was to sit in her lap, to sit for a long while, drawing scribbles with that purple pen and watching her conjure some pathetic semblances of cars on the paper before taking the pen back and resuming his scribbles.

When he finally rose from his cushioned seat and looked around for the next adventure, she realized it was time to start home. The sun on the pavement was hours past noon, and he hadn’t had his lunch yet.

Typical visions of a starved son and frightened doctors started to conjure themselves in her mind, but a sing-songy sound from that same little boy, racing his way down the sidewalk, dissolved them: no need to hurry home and cram strawberries into his mouth; he was gorging himself on the nectar of nature.

She stood up, brushed the stray twigs and dirt off her pants, reached down for her notebook and turned in the direction of home… Yes: she’d take the long way.

“Come on, sweetheart!” she called, “Let’s go this way!”

She watched him: The way he turned, the way he smiled, the way he launched forward to follow, trusting that she would lead him to more beauty, made her heart skip. Her son.

As they inched along, talking, stopping to toss pinecones or look at trees and flowers, strangely vivid recollections of days gone by flooded her memory: tangy orange popsicles on summer days; bike-rides with parents and siblings over muggy evening trails; knees stained with vivacious hues of greens that made baths long and laundry irritating; cicadas and crickets calling all mischief-makers in to sleep (yet simultaneously to stay out with them and sing), all surrounded her with their forgotten magic as she walked home with her son.