‘FATHER FORGETS’: A classic poem you should read
- children, Father forgets poem, Inspirational poem for parents, W. Livingston Larned
- October 9, 2014
By W. Livingston Larned
(As condensed in the ‘Readers Digest’)
I am saying this as you lie asleep,
one little paw crumpled under your cheek and
the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead.
I have stolen into your room alone.
Just a few minutes ago,
as I sat reading my paper in the library,
a stifling wave of remorse swept over me.
Guiltily I came to your bedside.
These are the things I was thinking,
son: I had been cross to you.
I scolded you as you were dressing for school
because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel.
I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes.
I called out angrily
when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too.
You spilled things.
You gulped down your food.
You put your elbows on the table.
You spread butter too thick on your bread.
And as you started off to play
and I made for my train,
you turned and waved a hand
and called, ‘Goodbye, Daddy!’
and I frowned, and said in reply,
‘Hold your shoulders back!’
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon.
As I came up the road I spied you,
down on your knees, playing marbles.
There were holes in your stockings.
I humiliated you before your boyfriends
by marching you ahead of me to the house.
Stockings were expensive –
and if you had to buy them you would be more careful!
Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember,
later, when I was reading in the library,
how you came in timidly,
with a sort of hurt look in your eyes?
When I glanced up over my paper,
impatient at the interruption,
you hesitated at the door.
‘What is it you want?’ I snapped.
You said nothing,
but ran across in one tempestuous plunge,
and threw your arms around my neck
and kissed me,
and your small arms tightened
with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart
and which even neglect could not wither.
And then you were gone,
pattering up the stairs.
it was shortly afterwards
that my paper slipped from my hands
and a terrible sickening fear came over me.
What has habit been doing to me?
The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding
– this was my reward to you for being a boy.
It was not that I did not love you;
it was that I expected too much of youth.
I was measuring you
by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine
and true in your character.
The little heart of you
was as big as the dawn itself
over the wide hills.
This was shown by your spontaneous impulse
to rush in and kiss me good night.
Nothing else matters tonight, son.
I have come to your bedside in the darkness,
and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement;
I know you would not understand these things
if I told them to you during your waking hours.
I will be a real daddy!
I will chum with you,
and suffer when you suffer,
and laugh when you laugh.
I will bite my tongue
when impatient words come.
I will keep saying as if it were a ritual:
‘He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!’
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man.
Yet as I see you now, son,
crumpled and weary in your cot,
I see that you are still a baby.
Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms,
your head on her shoulder.
I have asked too much, too much.
I hope this poem has blessed you as it always blesses me. Ever since I first heard it, Mr Livingston’s words always reminds me that:
children are not adults and as such I shouldn’t expect them to act like adults.
So, I need to be patient and more considerate with children
when they act only as children could & should.
What portion(s) of this poem appealed to you the most?
And what emotions did this poem stir up in you?
Please share your answers in the comment box below.
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