• Rachael Bell-Irving

Raising a Magical Child

A snippet from the memoir of Adrianna Williams, adoptive grandmother of Jessica Williams


Watching an infant discover its body is a fascinating sight. It is as if each limb moves with a mind of its own, independently of the others, until that moment where the child’s eyes go wide upon the realization that those apparatuses are attached to their own body. Then it becomes an exploration of potential, and discovery of limitations until they are able to learn some amount of feeble coordination.


Now imagine that child also has raw energy barely contained within them that they must also learn to be aware of and control. The child must learn to understand their magic as if it were their twin and an extension of their own will. This is not a discussion that is easily ascertained with a toddler.


I never wanted children. My legacy was to be passed on through my pupils, and through them, the vast knowledge I had acquired through my many long years would transcend to the next generation. But when I first held Jessica in my arms I knew she was something exceptional. It is an existential experience, holding something so powerful yet so fragile in one’s arms. Kathleen knew it too, the power that she had brought into this world. So, I suppose it was never a surprise when Thomas handed me the infant, only just off the bottle, and asked me to care for her. I never thought I would find a second purpose at my advanced age, but at that time I could hold her in my hands.


I also never anticipated the little bundle of terror that Jessica would be. It was clear quite early on that she was a perfect blend of her parents. She has possessed a thoughtfulness and curiosity that was clearly Thomas, but ambition and fearlessness that had made her mother so disreputable.

There was an incident when Jessica was three years old that stands out strongly in my mind. She was angry with me for refusing her a sweet. She knew I stored the treats above the refrigerator, where she couldn’t reach them. I was a fool to expect Kathleen’s daughter to simply take accept her circumstances. I was awakened from my afternoon nap by the fire alarm. In Jessica’s young rage at being unable to scale the fridge, she accidentally (or perhaps intentionally) lit the ice box’s wiring on fire.


Transformation spells were a particularly amusing time in Jessica’s growth. I know that it is socially inappropriate for me to mock a child in my care, but the months that took her master transfiguration were some of the most rewarding for me. Not only did I get to see my little Bambina live with donkey ears for two straight days, but I also had the joy of watching her overcome the challenge – only to change her hair into feathers for the next week.


Despite how my already gray hair turned white with the stress of raising a Beata, Jessica astounded me regularly. I often wonder what kind of woman she would have become had it not been for that tragic night only days after her tenth birthday. Would she have she stepped into Kathleen’s image, lost herself in the magic, or was it the cruelty of the world that allowed her compassionate heart to shine through?


I never wanted children, but it seems fate had other plans for me. I now have a beautiful granddaughter, a powerful spell caster and a strong woman in her own right. Many nights I am kept awake with worry – did I do enough? Was I enough? I am sure many mothers struggle with these fears.


Yet the doubts are mere quiet scratches in the back of my mind, shoved aside by the bright burning light that is my pride and joy for Jessica. I have no doubt that my granddaughter will change the world one day. Only fate knows who she will become by the end of it.


Adrianna Williams

09/21/2014

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