April 3, 2014 3:08 pm The Magic Crayon
Sun filled the wide hallway of the Little Farms Nursery School. It was the second week of school and the children were settling into their lives there after the long summer vacation. Mrs. Macafer was a young, vibrant, and very smiley teacher. She adored children and each one of them felt special in her class. The sun followed her into her big classroom. Soon the children arrived and the class was in full swing. The happy buzz created by these three and four year olds encouraged each person to have his best day.
“I love your building, William,” Sarah said as she passed the block area on her way to the coloring table.
“Thanks, Sarah. I am trying to make the Chrysler Building. My grandfather works there.”
“I love it.” Sarah said with genuine zeal.
Nick came over. “So cool, William. ‘Member we saw that skinny part too? You might need skinnier blocks to make it.” Nick reached into a wooden box of colorful, narrow blocks. He handed a few to William. “Maybe these’ll work.”
“Perfect. Thank you Nick!”
Billy was making a pattern with bright cubes. “Purple, red, green, yellow. Purple, red, green, yellow. I might do this all day.”
Mrs. Macafer came over and patted Billy’s hair. “You are really good at patterning now, Billy. Let me try. Purple, red, green and oh, I don’t know what comes next.”
Billy and Sally said in unison, “Yellow!”
“Oh you’re right. That’s it. Thank you children.” Mrs. Macfer was smiling, as she called the children to the morning meeting on the big heart rug.
Nolan told the class about his baby sister, Eva. “She doesn’t talk yet. She can’t catch either. She wears very tiny diapers. My Mommy is always busy with her. I kind of want her to go back to the hospital.”
Trish chimed in. “I can’t stand my baby brother. He cries and poops all the time and my Mommy always says, ‘Shhh’ to me! We were all just fine and then we got a baby.”
Becky added thoughtfully, “I wish we could get a baby.”
Mrs. Macafer listened carefully and then responded. “These little hard times won’t last forever. Soon things will feel pretty normal and you’ll be happy again. Becky, you are so dear to your mother and father. Maybe you are enough right now. Why don’t we all go back to what we were doing? We’ll clean up a little later unless anyone has something else to share.” William was almost going to tell his friends that he wished he could draw, but then he just couldn’t say the words.
After the meeting some children started drawing balloons and flowers on cards because it was Mary’s mother’s birthday. William looked at the cards and said, “I’ll never be able to make stuff like that.” He walked away.
Lizzy called after him, “I’ll teach you. Balloons are easy.” William smiled shyly at her.
It was a beautiful, warm day and soon the children were getting ready to go outside to the sunny play yard. They found their mothers and babysitters waiting for them. When the play yard was empty, the teachers walked inside.
Mrs. Macafer straightened her room. She found a picture of a person in purple crayon that William had left behind. She put it on her desk, reminding herself to add more crayons to their basket.
The next day was rainy. The girls were all drawing flowers and making little books. Nick and William built more skyscrapers while others played board games. In the dress up area, children pretending to be sick animals waited for Lily, who was a bossy vet.
After snack, William and Nick went to the drawing table. William had been staying clear of it, because he felt he couldn’t draw. William took a purple crayon from the basket and was surprised by the little person he drew.
“William, wow, you can draw!” Nick was astonished. Mrs. Macafer took a look and sure enough, there was a purple person, looking back at them.
“William, is it you or is the crayon magic?”
“The crayon. It is magic.”
“I bet it’s you.” His teacher answered smiling.
William drew another person. Children nearby were amazed. “William!” they cried.
Sarah came near. “Maybe you can draw the Chrysler Building. I bet you can.”
“I’ll try,” William wasn’t confident. His lines were wavy. “I’ll keep trying,” he told himself.
Soon it was time to get ready to go home. Mrs. Macafer promised lots of more time for drawing tomorrow.
“Mrs. Macafer, will you keep the purple crayon on your desk? It’s magic. I might not be able to draw without it.”
“Of course, dear. I’ll put it in my desk drawer. The magic will be waiting for you.”
William smiled and looked at his work as he put it in his bag to take home. “I know it’s the crayon,” he thought.
After school, William couldn’t think of anything but the magic crayon. As he was falling asleep that night, William asked his mother, “Could we please go to school a little early tomorrow? I want to draw with the magic crayon.”
“Sure, sweetheart. Right after breakfast. A magic crayon, hmm. That must be great. ”
“It’s the best thing, Mommy. I can draw. I really can. Even girls like my stuff. Nick can’t believe his eyes. It is so cool, Mommy!”
“I love it too. But William, I think you make it magic.”
“Mommy, nope. It’s the crayon. I’ll be awake. Maybe I won’t sleep at all.”
It was still dark the next morning when William got up. He was brushing his teeth as his mother came into the bathroom. “Mommy, I’m so awake.”
“Yes, I see you are. William, I found a box of crayons last night. Should we draw a bit?”
“Oh Mommy, there isn’t a magic one. Only Mrs. Macafer’s is. That purple one.”
After breakfast, William ran to get his school bag. She helped him into his orange jacket and in minutes they were at the school.
Mrs. Macafer was watering the geraniums when William entered the room. “I just had to get here to draw again. I couldn’t stop thinking about the magic purple crayon.”
“Early is good! It is great that William is so excited to draw. This is some crayon, I guess,” she said to Jenny with a wink.
Jenny smiled. “This is so nice for him. Over the summer, his girl cousins were always drawing cats and houses. He couldn’t draw with them.”
The purple person emerged again. His face had a real expression. Then came the Chrysler Building with straight lines. It looked good.
“William, that looks like where Pop works.”
William almost screamed, “Mommy, you knew without me telling you! It is!!”
“You can come early every morning,” Mrs. Macafer told him.
William peeled back the paper on the purple crayon. “Oh no! It’s getting shorter. I’m so afraid I won’t be able to draw without it.”
Children and mothers started to arrive. The children got busy throughout the room.
“William, you can still draw! I like your people,” called Nick, scurrying to the blocks.
Mrs. Macafer sat with William. Taking out a blue crayon, she began to draw a bird.
William was reluctant to use his purple crayon. He thought he should save it.
Mrs. Macafer took a yellow crayon and drew the beak. A brown crayon created a nest.
“You see William, soon you’ll be using many colors and what you draw will look even more real. I have more purple crayons, so please don’t worry.”
“I know it is just this crayon. I know it.”
Mrs. Macafer got up to help Tommy with a kleenex.
William picked up a yellow crayon and began to draw a sun. He closed his eyes. When he opened them, it was pretty good. He tried it again with his eyes open. Better this time. He went back to the purple crayon and drew a little car. There it was, with its tiny engine. Encouraged, William continued to draw.
At clean up time, William put his crayon on Mrs. Macafer’s desk. Cleaning up under the coloring table, he saw little bits of the purple crayon wrapper. “What if I won’t be able to draw once it’s all gone? I’m okay with other colors but not nearly as good as I am with the purple one.”
During snack, William couldn’t stop thinking of the magic crayon. He barely ate. As Mrs. Macafer read his favorite story, he could see the very small remainder of the purple crayon on her desk.
He was happy that his mother picked him up early. He said goodbye to his friends.
“Mommy, I’m sleepy. I might just want to take a nap.”
“Maybe after a little lunch you’ll pick up.”
By the time they got home, William was asleep. Jenny gently undid his car seat. She carried him to his bed, took off his jacket and slid him under the covers.
Jenny made a few calls and ate a half a sandwich. Then she heard a heart-wrenching bleat. William had forgotten to tell Mrs. Macafer about the bit of the purple crayon he put on her desk. There were so many papers beside it, he was afraid it was gone. But school was closed until morning. There was nothing to be done.
“I know you’re upset William. Let’s ask Daddy if he can come home early. We can do something nice.” She called, and then told him, “Daddy is on his way. We’ll go to Happy Hoops so you can play that little basketball game you both love.”
“Do you think my crayon is okay Mommy?”
“I hope so, sweetheart. I know you will be great with other ones if it got moved.”
They had a great time at Happy Hoops. At bedtime, William told his father some more about the magic crayon. “I love drawing and I really can now, Daddy.”
“William, try to remember that. You really can. A day of purple drawing will be so much fun, tomorrow. I will be thinking of you. Sweet dreams, magic William.”
Breakfast and getting to school was a blur. William was sad to realize Mrs. Macafer was absent. Miss Farley, the substitute, was sitting in her chair. She tapped at her wristwatch as William and his mother walked in.
“Please wait until 8:00. This is my quiet time.”
“Oh, sorry. We will.”
William was about to cry. There was no sign of the magic crayon. Jenny and he walked out of the room. The day was bad enough without Mrs. Macafer.
The clock struck eight. The children all felt sad to not have their smiling teacher. They quietly came in and began to do familiar things.
“Is Mrs. Macafer coming back tomorrow?” Nick asked quietly.
“Probably. Her sister had a baby. She went to the hospital. Please keep working.”
William sat at the coloring table. He found a purple crayon and drew a good person.
Sarah looked at it and said enthusiastically, “I know it is you!”
William liked her idea but wasn’t sure. He picked up an orange crayon. He could draw a ball and then a balloon. “I can draw!” He thought to himself. William began to feel happy with all of the crayons. White for clouds and pink for flowers! Brown for bark and a brownie. His classmates cheered.
Miss Farley came over. “I take it you are William.” She was holding the leftover crayon he had put on Mrs. Macafer’s desk the day before. A yellow rubber band was around it with a piece of paper.
“I have a note for you.” She read, “Hi, William. I hope soon you will see it really is you!
See you tomorrow. Love, Mrs. Macafer.”
Everyone knew it was William and not the crayon. Now William did too.
When things begin to go well, we all think there has to be a bit of magic involved: a lucky sweater, little stone, sneakers or necklace. William really believed in the magic purple crayon. He had no idea that his ability was growing all the time. The magic crayon helped him to want to draw and draw, giving him the practice and confidence he needed. The support of his kind teacher, gentle mother and father, and good friends helped him too. William has a wonderful year ahead.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
We welcome your comments and questions.