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by Eric Ruth

One calculus of retail contentment goes something like this: When the kids are happy, the moms are happy. And when mom is happy, a trip to the mall just might turn from torment to productive shopping excursion.

That’s the formula that Christiana Mall hopes to have found with its new “Small Wonders” play area, a Delaware-themed, custom-crafted corral of sorts that’s designed to give frazzled parents a venue for safe ventilation of excess toddler energy.

“It’s a nice way to stop, maybe have a snack, let the kids run around and get their energy out a little bit,” said Melissa Costantino of Pike Creek as she tried to snag rambunctious 16-month-old son Brody.

Here, the climbing and cavorting takes place in a “First State” state of mind — after passing beneath a Delaware “postcard” entrance, kids can cross a Delaware Memorial Bridge, pounce on a ladybug or peach blossom (state insect and flower), and climb into a pint-size Wilmington & Western locomotive.

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