#sol17 Poems for Parents

Tonight was bath night.

I filled the tub and K dumped in his toys, a set of foam trucks, roads, and signs that his grandparents recently gave him. img_7694He pulled his pants down to his ankles, a new trick he’s recently mastered. Once naked and in the water, he “swam like a fish!” and then carefully deliberated about where on the tile wall to stick each two-dimensional component of “my job site.”

As I watched, I thought about how much of him has changed in the year since I last Sliced. Almost three, he can now (partially) dress and undress himself. He can follow directions. He can jump with two feet off the ground. He tells us stories that make sense and we can understand. He has parts of his favorite books memorized. We have conversations. He can name all of the trucks and most of his colors. He counts: “one, two, seven, eleven, fourteen, nine!” He recites most of the alphabet and sings his favorite songs. He picks out what clothes he wants to wear. He laughs at our jokes.

And in so many ways, he is still a baby: he sleeps in his same crib, still relies on his pacifier to settle him to sleep, still wants me to rock him before bed, still wears diapers, hasn’t made the transition from Mama and Dada to Mom and Dad. Not yet.

At one point, he held a piece of forked piece of road in his hands, studying the wall, deciding where it should go. I was reminded of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and its less well-known lines, Frost’s oft-mistook theme of regret:

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
K has his entire life spread before him, an endless series of roads and decisions and choices and moments and doubts. I do not own him, and he is not mine, not really; we are on borrowed time. Someday he will be as old as my students, someday he will be as old as me, someday he will be as old as my parents. Someday, he will not need me to run his bath or make his meals. I am not the first parent to realize any of this, of course, but every moment that a parent has this realization feels like a kind of tiny death.

Because I think in poetry, I am reminded of another poem, Kahlil Gibran’s “On Children“:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
As I sat there, watching him watch the wall, he made a choice. He placed the road. He glanced at me. “Good job,” I said. What I meant was, “I love you.”

slice of life

3 thoughts on “#sol17 Poems for Parents

  1. LOVE this story. It is amazing how sometimes as parents we are caught up in the moment with our children and wonder where the time has gone. I wish I could just bottle up my kids and keep them this age forever! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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