Tag Archives: poem about parenting

#135: The Eight Year Old Uses Tweezers To Pull A Sliver Out of His Daddy’s Hand



This happened yesterday, for real, and it was one of those events in parenting, perfectly mundane, nearly inconsequential, that nevertheless felt poignant in that moment, and today even more powerful as parents in my state again lose their children to guns. It breaks my heart. Love your kids.

The Eight Year Old Uses Tweezers To Pull A Sliver Out of His Daddy’s Hand

I’m digging around in there
with the tweezers but I can’t
get a grip on the thing.
My son, eight years old:
I know how to do it, he says,
because Mommy has taught me
and she is the master.
Let me do it, he says,
and I give over the tweezers.
And then, hand as steady
as a surgeon’s, he digs gently
into the palm of my hand
and successfully, painlessly,
removes a sliver, tiny and deep.


Filed under Parenting, Poetry

#69: Screen Dilemma (Left To His Devices)


Not My Kid, But Nevertheless, A Strong Representation

Screen Dilemma (Left To His Devices)

If the boy were left to his own devices
he would be playing a video game or streaming some show
on the damn iPad all day long.
The bad news is that sometimes he
is left to his own devices and I agonize
about my shitty parenting.
Sometimes I rue the day I brought
that device into the house, along
with the Wii box, but not as much,
because the tablet precious,
in all its variability, is
favored over the box precious;
the tablet, portable and powerful as a god,
and just as intoxicating, apparently.
The battle cry, “limit the screen time,”
rings in my ears–and yet, I’m tired
and he’s quiet and everyone is happy,
happy for a long, long time–until
it’s time to put the thing away–and
then the struggles ensue and all that
pent up eight year old energy that’s been
storing itself while the host sits in front of a screen
unleashes itself upon the world.

I think, then, upon the hours and hours
of unmonitored time I spent as a child
in front of the television and figure that by now
my brain should be pure mush, but lo and behold,
it’s not.  I am an active participant in the world,
I am gainfully employed, I read and can think
and I’ve written books.  I’ve stopped paying for cable.
And who’s to say that,
if there were no Wii machines or iPad tablets or
idiot boxes of yesteryear inside the house,
that the struggle to come to the table or
take a bath or do the homework or clean the room
would simply just disappear, that it would not be
just as difficult to pull the resident eight year old
away from his legos, his hexbugs, his rock collection,
or his art as it is to pull him away from the screen?
No one can say with any certainty that
this would not be the case. Anyway, I’m not convinced
that all the hand wringing we do about screen time
is worth a tenth of the energy we exert, any more
than it was eons ago when we thought that the radio, then
the cassette tape, then the compact disc or the mp3
would destroy music forever.
Similar doomsday predictions were made, I think,
about the telephone and the typewriter,
not that they would destroy music, but would
in some similar way bring society low.
In the end, with regard to our screen dilemma,
maybe it’s not about how much
but about what kind, and whether Mom and Dad
have any clue or even give a shit.
Maybe I’m just trying to let myself off the hook;
but I am comforted.  I know my boy is loved
and is loving; I know he has other things to do
at his ready disposal; I know he has interests
beyond the flashing and flickering of the magic bauble
somehow named after a fruit.  He’ll be okay,
one way or another. That’s my conclusion in
this moment.


Filed under Culture, Parenting, Poetry, Self Reflection

#48: Learning to Ride

Learning to Ride

He’s seven, reluctant to ride independently,
most of his classmates far ahead on two wheels,
which has not been a problem for him, so he says.
No, I’m scared, he has said.  No, I like the scooter better, he has said.
I will never ride a bike, he has said.  Never, he repeats, for emphasis.
But there was something about Dad saying this would be the summer.
And today was the day.  Dad has no worries or anxieties, really,
about his boy’s slow and reluctant approach to two-wheel independence,
only a sense of the importance of this step, of marking out
this particular summer as one in which something
great is accomplished.  So Dad says, Let’s get the bike out of the garage
and remove those clunky training wheels.
Let’s practice on the grass, so if you fall, it will not hurt.
And that was enough.  A few false starts, awkward
on the browned-out lawn, pedals uncompromising
and stubborn, lots of tipping, a failed attempt to lower the seat,
some awkward pokes to the groin area and some dramatic escapes
from the tumbling cycle.  But really, after only about ten minutes of this,
the first independent ride, short-lived, ending in collapse, but no injuries.
And then, Dad, not wanting to let this moment escape, produces
his phone for a rare captured moment.  He begins filming,
the boy mounts the saddle, Dad steadies the bike and begins to push
until the boy says, Daddy, let go–and Daddy lets go.
The boy makes a complete circle on his bike, independently,
in the yard, and you can see it on his face and hear it in his
father’s voice, a kind of triumph, a vibe of victory, the purest
kind of pride.  On the boy’s part, a sheepishness, as if to admit
much ado about nothing, but an unwillingness to let go of that innocence,
the baby boy who needs the training wheels.  And Dad, really,
on the verge of tears, a great emotion welling up inside,
for the accomplishment of the feat, yes, the tackling of one more
rite of passage, but of fear, too, and sadness, for the boy
who sets off and keeps on pedaling farther and farther away.


Filed under Parenting, Poetry

#45: The Seven Year Old Understands Adult Psychology (Whispering Across the Table)

Em Hast

The Seven Year Old Understands Adult Psychology (Whispering Across the Table)

So the boy and his mother are bickering,
you know, the usual stuff, it’s time for dinner
and someone won’t put away the iPad.
There are repeated requests, some back talk,
further struggling, the ubiquitous countdown,
and then the final capitulation with
an accompaniment of sass and accusations
about Mom’s bossiness and grump.
It’s uncomfortable there for awhile until the boy
bites down on his kabob and hurts a tooth and
begins to cry–which elicits from Mom
sympathy and comfort–and then when
the hurt’s over, everyone is once again happy
and loving.

The boy, sometime during the meal,
whispers over to Dad that the hurt tooth
was really not as bad as it seemed and that
the crying was a bit of a calculated ruse
“to make Momma happy again.”

Absolute genius.  But disturbing in its way.
I wanted to say that there are other strategies,
perhaps more direct, perhaps more honest,
for restoring the peace, one of which might
have been an apology, another of which might
have been smiles instead of pretended tears,
but I could not say these things because we were,
after all, whispering across the table
and all was once again right with the world.

1 Comment

Filed under Parenting, Poetry