the brave little toddler.


Our group moved from house to house as the toddlers excitedly took in each step of trick-or-treating. Yes, we can stay outside even though it’s dark. Yes, you can run through the leaves. Yes, if a house has a light on, we can go there. Yes, if you ask really nicely, they might give you an extra piece. Yes, you can eat that candy.

Yes, this night is basically like a fairy tale (good parts version), porch lights glowing bright and smiling neighbors and meeting up with friends in costumes.

Emboldened by the appearance of actual candy, Atticus and his buddies walked up the driveway without us. By then, they knew the routine. Atticus knocked on the door, said, “Trick or treat!” and then waited patiently for someone to actually open the door. Then he said it again. When they got their candy, they raced back down the driveway, ready to show off their loot.

I didn’t know I would be so proud of him for such a simple thing, one that we had practiced all month. But as he stood and waited and smiled at people, I thought my heart might burst.

The past few weeks Atticus’s brave little self has been on display in full force. I took him to get his flu shot and he held my hands and closed his eyes and sat quietly even though he knew it was going to hurt. And on Monday morning, he started at a new school. I could go into all the justification reasons and pros and cons about moving him, but essentially we decided it was the right time and the right thing to do, no matter how heartbroken we were about leaving the shabby little building we loved. We talked to him about the transition and he toured the school and was excited about new trucks to play with. But I was not prepared for how moved I would be when he headed in the door by himself, pulling his new Spider-man bookbag behind him and walking bravely into the unknown.


I always thought it sounded terrible when people said that having a kid is like watching your heart walk around outside of you. Who wants their heart cut out and put on an irresponsible unreliable toddler who falls a lot? Not me.

But it’s not that Atticus has ripped my heart out, just that tending to him has been some kind of magical fertilizer, boosting the love I have available to give. And he carries some of it with him wherever he goes, whether he is sure of his footing or blindly trusting us or flat-out refusing to listen.

It is a gift to be able to offer Atticus the safety and security of a neighborhood Halloween, a gift that he trusts us even when it has to hurt or seems scary. It is a great and holy thing to see how his faith in us and our faith in him makes all of us a little stronger.

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