What is a child?

 ... a Melrosian reminiscing in Arizona

by Steve Johnson

This is Steve's second contribution to the Mirror.

In 1971, my middle daughter, Jennifer, was in the third grade. One day she came home with a homework assignment for her parents. The teacher asked that each student get their parents to write a short story or poem on the theme: "What Is A Child?" This poem that I wrote that night in 1971 tells the truth; I actually told her that I was too tired to sit down and write such a thing but she insisted, the way young girls do, that I must. She absolutely could not go empty-handed to school the next day. So I tried and this is what resulted.

I often say that one of the signs that we are getting old is to have old kids. Our three daughters, Laura, Jennifer and Victoria, are now "forty-ish" with families of their own. This poem turned out to be very true and I'd like to share it with your readers.

What is a child?

What is a child?, you ask me to write.
I can't write, I'm too tired tonight.
But I suppose I will have to try
For if I don't, you'll probably cry.

What is a child? Now let me see.
I should know, good grief we have three.
Noise and confusion, problems galore,
Dirt on their faces and clothes on the floor.
Cap off the toothpaste, a door left ajar,
Bugging their mother and bothering Pa.

Ours are all girls, a fabulous three;
Hard on the budget, they don't come for free.
Phone calls and records, a house full of toys
And, after school, a yard full of boys.

But in spite of all this, we truly must say
We just would not want it another way.
Giggles and laughter and kisses goodnight
Outweigh the problems, making everything right.

Hopscotch and jump ropes and races to run;
Sometimes I think they are actually fun.
But as they grow older their interests will change;
Dolls to reality will be their exchange.

Money and cars and little bikinis,
Soldiers and wars and cool, dry martinis.
Fun with the crowd and sadness alone;
Marriage and houses and kids of their own.

But Gaby and I, our job done just fine
Can sit back, relax and think, with our wine,
We've given the world, which needed a lift,
Three beautiful women, the ultimate gift.

May 2, 2003

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