Skip to content


That magical world…

I had the pleasure the other day of caring for three children who aren’t mine. I brought them to my parents’ farm, where there are endless new things to discover.

The two older children are around the ages of mine, and they did what older children do: The two boys went off to horse around on the swingset and then try to train the new kittens in various stunts, and the girls took baskets to the corn patch and the basement to get potatoes.

First Tomato was one of our kids favorite books

First Tomato was one of our kids' favorite books

I was left with the four-year-old, who doesn’t have an age-mate in my family. I took her around the garden and we did the sorts of things you do with four-year-olds: we looked at dried-up sunflowers and discovered where their seeds were. We picked zucchini and talked about how prickly the plants are. I showed her the little hairs on the freshly picked zucchini, which come off when they are washed so you never get to see them on store-bought zucchini. We noticed that all the red tomatoes were way down deep in the tomato patch, and we found funny tomatoes, red with green spots, and we smelled that particular, fresh-tomato smell.

The world of the young child is full of magic. Very little is yet explained, or even explored. Around every corner is something new. There’s a story in everything.

This is something that’s so easy to forget when our children get older. It’s something so small we forget to miss it, until a little girl reminds us of it.

My youngest is only three years older than she is, but I felt transported back into the past. I imagined myself a be-hatted grandmother showing her grandchild around the garden, rediscovering all the magic she’d forgotten. Who can forget the shock of the smell of warm, ripe tomatoes? But once you’re reminded, you can also remember reading “First Tomato” by Rosemary Wells, and the magical language of a girl going out into the garden to find the “fat” smell of the first red tomato on the vine.

No matter that you can’t make tomato soup from the first tomato. (I know this for certain: I just made First Tomato Soup last night with the first TEN tomatoes that I’d been collecting over days!) The book captures the magic of being a small child alone in a garden.

I didn’t have time to leave my friend’s four-year-old alone in the garden, but I did my own. I would furnish a basket and a mission and then hang back, letting them explore the magic alone. More than once, I lost a child in the tall corn: feeling the silk, watching the ants marching up the stalks, contemplating the impossibly far-away sky through the arching leaves.

But I knew they weren’t lost. They’d been found again in their magical world, the one I hope they can still remember when their own children grow away from the age of magic.

Posted in Parenting.


0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.



Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.