David L. James’s “Lessons”

Parents, this one is for you.

“Father and Children” by Lautir
by David L. James

     "Is there anyone among you who,
     if your child asks for a fish, will give
     a snake instead of a fish? Or if the
     the child asks for an egg, will give
     a scorpion?"
          Gospel of Luke, Chapter 11
She asks for pop, I pour cold water.
He asks for Kool-Aid, I pour cold water.
She asks for toys, I buy gum.
He asks for the hammer, I tell him to look for it.
Asks for chocolate, I peel an orange.
Asks for money, I dish out chores.
They ask for help, I give them help.
She asks for ice cream, I fix lunch.
He asks for a sip of beer, I pour cold water.
Asks for understanding, I offer advice.
Asks for more time, I give excuses.
They ask for a later curfew, I say no.
She asks for a swimming pool, I take her 
to the beach.
He asks for it big time, I give it to him big time.
They ask and ask, I give and give.
So when they finally ask for answers,
I give them love.
When they ask for their freedom,
I give them love.
And when they ask for love,
I give them

~ from Poetry East: Origins (Numbers 98 & 99, 
Spring 2020)
“Reach for the Stars,” by Jenn Norton


I was quite moved by this poem even though I’m not a parent. Perhaps it’s because I was fortunate enough to have been lovingly parented, and now, with the wisdom of age, I can better appreciate the perplexing challenges my parents must have faced.

They did give me everything they possibly could with what they had, in light of what they knew at any given time.

The poet himself confessed:

As a father of three, I know I have failed my children in many ways. There’s no guidebook to read, no list of rules to follow, no set amount of prayers to say that will guarantee their future success and happiness. Parenthood is a crapshoot; we roll the dice and hope for the best. As parents, we stumble and plod along, trying to find the correct answers, trying to do the least harm, trying to shed some light in this big old world of darkness.

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