About ten years ago, while in law school, I was engaged in a battle to hold on to my identity, to not lose sight of the person I had been for 26 years. I fought hard not to change too much amidst the grind and prevailing competitiveness. Fortunately I won the battle and got what I could out of law school without letting it get too much out of me.
A large part of my success was due to my staying involved with kids—and writing poems for them about the kind of things they were most aware of and worried about. Here are a few of my favorites:
Just Play Kid
Soccer and hockey and football and track,
Softball and baseball and swimming and back
To soccer, then tennis, cross-country, the links,
Basketball, bowling, and skating rinks—
Hey, wait a minute! This really stinks!
I hardly get a second to just stop and think.
I love playing sports, and I like to compete,
But when do I get to stop and prop up my feet?
I really could use a few minutes to rest.
Who knows—it might just help make me the best.
‘Cause when I’m old and look back on all the things that I did,
I don’t want to wish that I’d just played kid.
Say what you mean,
Don’t stick me between
a generous thought
and one that’s not.
Don’t say that I’m pretty but look the other way,
Don’t tell me you love me and then go away,
Don’t give me a hug and tell me I’m almost the best,
Don’t congratulate me but act unimpressed,
Don’t buy my favorite snack and say, “Not for you, dear,”
Don’t dry my tears but make light of my fear,
If I do something wrong and say, “I’m sorry,”
Don’t tell me it’s OK but cancel my bedtime story.
Please, just tell me how you truly feel,
I’ll still love you—I promise—if you’re really real.
I Need To Talk
“Mom, there’s a hole in my sock.”
“That’s alright, dear, I’ll fix it tomorrow.”
“Mom, the dog wants to go for a walk.”
“Yes, in a few minutes, honey.”
“Dad, something’s wrong with the clock.”
“I’ll take a look at it later, kiddo.”
“Dad, the baby was just picked up and carried away by a hawk.”
“That’s fine, pumpkin, I’ll take care of it in a bit.”
“Mom, Dad, I was suspended from school for throwing a rock,
breaking all the chalk,
picking the locker room locks,
and dropping a cinder block on top of a big old jerk of a jock.”
“Oh, don’t worry, dear—tomorrow will be better.”
“Ahem … knock, knock.”
“What? Who’s there?”
“It’s just me. Do you think, Mom, Dad, that we … uh … could maybe … um … talk?”
Mom, dad, TV, and me,
we’re one big happy family.
Every day we get to see
amazing things on ABC.
We watch PBS with TLC,
we BET on MTV,
mix some CBS with CBC,
and buy TNT on QVC.
Every night at the dinner table
we sit and stare at our beloved cable.
I wonder if someday I’ll be able
to tell my kids an untelevised fable.
Sometimes the TV seems a little too loud,
and it makes me feel like just a face in the crowd,
walking around in a dumb, numbing cloud.
I’m beginning to think TV should not be allowed.
What if we send our TV away,
and see what each of us might have to say
about the stuff that happens in the course of the day,
about feelings and projects, our work and our play?
So would you by any chance agree with me
that it might be good if we could see
what life is like without E! and NBC,
a happy, TV-free family?