This is a poem that my Dad used to read every team party. A more personalized version hangs on the walls in my sister’s, brother’s, and my rooms. I haven’t read the original in years. I do not know the author. Spme have suggested that it was Erma Bombeck, who was an author writing about parenthood in the era my Dad would have found the poem, but I’ve never found this particular piece attributed to any one. Today a nephew turns 15. Tomorrow my oldest turns six. I try to savor every moment.
Or: “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don’t slam the door!”
And they won’t.
You’ll straighten up the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy . . . bumper stickers discarded . . . spread tucked in and smooth . . . toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closets. Animals caged. And you’ll say out loud: “Now I want it to stay this way.”
And it will.
You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you’ll say: “Now there’s a meal for company.”
And you’ll eat it alone.
You’ll say: “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No pantomimes. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?”
And you’ll have it.
No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti.
No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.
No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.
No more clothespins under the sofa.
No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent.
No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.
No more iron-on patches; wet knotted shoestrings; tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week.
Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o’clock at night.
Having your own roll of tape.
Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.
No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark.
No knees to heal, no responsibility.
Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up,” and the silence echoing,