Sunday, 10 May 2009

Bringing Up Teens

Here at the coal face of bringing-up-teens
All of us poor ragged fools
Nagging and screaming and laundering jeans
Making -- and breaking -- the rules

How do we know if we’re doing it right?
If what we’re doing is fair?
Quarrel after quarrel and fight after fight
Worn out with labor and care

Blunt is our pick – God, it’s dark in this pit!
Harder than flint is our plight!
One day, sweet reason, the next a foul fit
Darkness – then suddenly light!

One thing they tell us: when our kids have grown
When we’ve retired from the pits
We’ll miss our cutting blade, miss all that stone
(If we’ve hung on to our wits)

So take up your lantern and little canary
Back to the coal face with you!
Some day we’ll meet in the sweet light-and-airy
When all of our teen raising’s through

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, all you mothers out there! And those of you with mothers, remember: it could happen to you.


Kit said...

Great poem - but scary for one about to embark on the teen coal face in a year or two!

Bish Denham said...

Wonderful poem! Teens are a paradox and don't know it. I sure am glad I'm not one anymore. Aren't you?

Bish Denham said...

PS. Happy Mother's Day!

Charlie said...

A wonderful poem, especially for a guy who dislikes poetry.

And Happy Mother's Day (I think).

angryparsnip said...

In my side yard a small dug out in the dirt where a drip system waters some bushes a Mother Quail had all her baby's nestled in cooling off in the hot part of the day. The babies were so tiny maybe 8 or 10 size of half of your thumb. She does this every year... What a Mom.

Great poem and Happy Mother's Day

Eryl Shields said...

Ha! I'll have to start calling you Philippa Larkin, happy mother's day.

Charles Gramlich said...

I know I spent a lot of time second guessing myselelf.

Robin said...

Yay! Love it! Happy Mother's Day, Mary!

Mary Witzl said...

Kit -- Don't worry! Plenty of people get through their kids' adolescence without even a scratch. I suspect I was just due for a big dose of kid karma...

Bish -- It's just doggerel, but it helped me let off steam. Of course you're right: things are a lot better now that I'm no longer a teenager (shiver). Thanks for reminding me!

Charlie -- Arguably, my poem isn't poetry -- that's probably why you can stomach it. But I'll bet I could send you some poems that you would love. I never believe anyone who claims not to like poetry.

AP -- I am envious: I would LOVE to have quail nesting in my garden! We have the occasional swift, and dozens of the biggest, meanest-looking crows you've ever seen. The quail mother sounds charming. How close will she let you get?

Eryl -- Jinx! I was going to call my poem 'This Be the Worse', but I worried that some people wouldn't get the reference. Anyway, I'm only supporting his argument here, aren't I?

Charles -- As an adolescent, I generally thought the world revolved around me. Never in a thousand years did I picture myself as a mother, put in my mother's situation. Odd how life turns out...

Robin -- Happy Mother's Day to you too. See you in the top seam!

Christy said...

Gulp. I have a few years left to find a good sharp pick and a srong helmet, I guess.

adrienne said...

Great poem - I'm just entering this territory!
Hope you had a great Mother's Day.

angryparsnip said...

The Quail don't let you get close but that area is near window.
I love when the family crosses the road the Mom leads all the babies in a flowing line and the Dad at the end but one baby always makes a break for it gets lost runs around and finally gets back to the group. We have to drive slow on our streets as you never know what will run in front of you from Rabbits to Mt.Lions

Robert the Skeptic said...

From "The Simpsons":

Marge: "Homer, do you remember the promise you made to the kids?"

Homer: "You bet I do... when you're eighteen, you're outta here".

And from my wife's favorite bumper sticker: "Empty Nesters - The kids have moved out, now we're just waiting for the pets to die".

Mary Witzl said...

Christy -- Some kids are easier than others. Mine are really pretty good, but my heart goes out to parents who have really feisty teenagers who do very dangerous things. When your kids are teenagers, feel free to whine to me any time, if I'm still around!

Adrienne -- Good luck with yours. Not all teenagers are difficult -- repeat that like it's a mantra. Hope your Mother's Day was good too!

AP -- I'd do great with quail and rabbits, but the mountain lions would give me pause. And I'm pretty sure my cat would protest, too!

Robert -- My favorite bumper sticker is the one that says 'WE'RE SPENDING OUR KIDS' INHERITANCE' -- that cracks me up every time. The older I get, the funnier it strikes me.

Anne Spollen said...

Great poem!

One thing I have discovered as my little ones grew into teens: I really, really like babies.

Mary Witzl said...

(Cringe, blush -- thank you!)

I really love babies too. In their own way they're even more honest than teenagers, but they don't talk back. But then they can't say all the funny things our teens say. And no baby ever cleaned out the shower cubicle after being badgered endlessly...Plus, the diapers and midnight sessions were a pain in the neck...

The nice thing about kids is that just after you decide you can't take any more of one stage, another one comes along.

kara said...

And those of you with mothers, remember: it could happen to you.don't even joke about such things.

happy late mother's day.

Mary Witzl said...

Kara -- I'm absolutely serious; it happens! Just remember I told you so.

C.R. Evers said...

LOL! I love this. It's so true no matter what stage your child passes. Memory certainly idealizes time. My kids are still small, and as I stand there with a babe on my hip, eyes drooping from lack of sleep and the nonexistance of "me time" while the older kids keep me hopping from task to task . . . moms of teens (who are sipping cocktails as I try to contain the whirlwind that is my kids) tell me "enjoy them now, because it's no fun when they're teenagers."

LOL! You gotta love selective memories. it seems that the time you're in currently, is always the hardest.

Mary Witzl said...

C. R. -- This is exactly what happened to us. When our eldest was four months old and we'd been up all night with her, a middle-aged couple with a grown-up daughter collared us and told us to treasure our daughter's babyhood, that it was the best time we'd ever know. We were seriously bummed out by that, but now I see what she meant. So enjoy your kids now...(don't worry, though: I don't have a cocktail, though God knows I need one).

Barbara Martin said...

Excellent poetry.