And Then I Saw the Toddler

I wrote about the soccer kids, and about me—at five years of age—playing in the rusty old pipe, but then that same day, on my afternoon walk with the dog, I saw the toddler. My Lord, what a sight he was; two-years-old—I’m guessing—and going to the playground.

I was in awe of the little guy. He was toddling, in every sense of the word, with all the intensity of his being, toward the swings, slide and other inviting fixtures of the park’s playground. I wondered if he could even see them, or was simply traveling in their direction and would deal with whatever was there when he arrived. Such, I believe, is the world in the eyes of those who have only recently discovered their ability to move about the earth on their own power.

Toddle is defined by the illustrious Mr. Webster as: to walk in short tottering steps in the manner of a young child. Totter is defined by him as: to move unsteadily. And so the term “toddler” is used to describe the youngster who has only recently learned to place one foot in front of the other, and thus propel oneself forward. A glorious time, I must suspect, though I cannot recall it.

The boy’s gait was one of leaning forward and seemingly, his body was on a different schedule than his feet. He seemed about to fall with each lurching movement, but, yet, seemed oblivious to the pain said fall might bring him. His intent—I believe—was merely movement; destination did not enter into the quest, merely forward motion. Ah, the joy of such a life—one of utter purposelessness. An existence based only on what—or to where—the next step might bring one.

I saw the child’s mother start down the sidewalk, pushing a stroller with the newest addition to the family within its inner realm. She had that hurried look about her, which said, slow down, little Johnny; you’ll fall and hurt yourself. She pushed the stroller with a sense of purpose, an ever watchful eye on the one who ran ahead.

An older boy—I’d guess he was maybe seven, or eight, came running to meet the toddling one, and when he reached him, the older boy bent, and with hands on knees, conversed with the little one. Even from a distance, I could see the body language on the toddler, which clearly stated this delay was not appreciated. He had places to go and this giant person was in the way. Head lowered, the small one went around the older one, one arm swinging, as if to help him gain speed.

The dog and I turned the corner then, and the show was over. But, as you can see, the memory lingers and the feeling that the toddler is in the prime of his life will not leave me.

Yes, I have heard it said of many ages and stages, that one or the other person is in the prime of his, or her, life. An athlete at the age of physical prowess—the likes of which will never be seen again; the scholar, who has reached a level of brilliance they cannot add to. But… is there really…. can we say for sure…. there is a better time in one’s life than the moment—and the precious days that come after it—when we at last stand then move forward without the help of another? I think not.

I think there is no victory after that one, which can come close to the exultation—the utter thrill, surprise, and amazement—a toddler must feel, when… he first toddles.

Lord, how I wish I could recall that day… that time…. that moment.


  1. Pat Cegan said

    Fun! I never thought about a toddler’s delight of independence. But I remember well, when my daughter took her first steps. I was torn between being thrilled for her and not wanting her to grow up so fast!

    Great write, thanks! And thanks, too, for visiting me! Hugs,pat

    • Thank you, Pat! I’m so glad you stopped by and took the time to read one of my stories. Come back again, please!

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