Standing on a beach full of nothing but pebbles, Eli holds out a small rounded rock and says breathlessly, "Mama! I found one!" At this moment, it is my job to stop and look, discuss the attributes of that one lumpy pebble. "What do you like best about that one? Hmmm. And look at that lovely green streak!" The morning passes slowly. Peacefully. Happily. We carry the best pebbles home in our pockets. I try hard to remember them before the rinse cycle.
Those pebbles? They are the harvest of a pint-sized farmer in Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls. They find a new habitat in the sandbox, chewed on by plastic dinosaurs. They get cooked atop Eli's toy stove and spooned onto doll plates. They are counted. There are roly poly pebble races across the kitchen floorboards. They fill the thumb-sized compartment of a Matchbox dump truck -- or else become an obstacle course for that truck to swerve through. They are tiny (and very round) people living in a block tower. They are nap companions, hidden under the pillow but flying out with thunks when I smooth the sheets for bedtime. Now scattered across the carpet, they form their own constellations.
I'm the mom who reads the reviews before buying the next educational toy and who has a tall stack of children's craft books. But a handful of pebbles? That's magic.