the poetry of growing older
7 min read

the poetry of growing older

the poetry of growing older

Last week, I had the rare privilege of sitting with D for one of his online classes. KrA is the one who usually sits with D, but on this occasion, the children were to make Fathers' Day crafts for their dads, so D asked me to sit with him so that his creations would remain a surprise for KrA until the day of celebration, which is incidentally also the day D turns five this year.

One of the children, A, in his JK (Junior Kindergarten) class kept up an almost non-stop but very endearing conversation with the teacher, Ms. M, throughout the twenty-five minutes of class. She peppered the teacher with all sorts of questions like –

"Ms. M, why are we working on a Fathers' Day gift?"

"Ms. M, why do we give presents on birthdays?"

"Ms. M, I can see our swimming pool from where I'm sitting. It has a square shape."

"Ms. M, do you have a kiddie pool at home?"

And Ms. M, to give credit where it is due, responded to each question to the best of her ability with just as much thought and consideration she'd give a grown-up.

Later, I recounted this episode to KrA with much delight and he observed that A was among the younger children in the class. He noted that for the most part, many of the older children have become more 'grown-up' in their interactions in class.

(Here, in Ontario, although a new school year begins in September, children join a particular grade based on the calendar year in which they attain the required age. So all children born anytime in 2016 began JK in 2020, i.e., the calendar year in which they turned four years old. D, our June baby, falls right in the middle of the age range. A is an October or November child, if I remember correctly.)

And it was KrA's observation that reminded me that D has indeed outgrown many of those child-like characteristics that A, still a good half-year younger than him, still exhibited.

And you know me – my immediate reaction to this realisation was melancholic. Not in any dramatic way, but a little sinking of my heart at the realisation that the little one is growing up. We had already noticed how much taller he has been getting. He's been growing more and more interested in following instructions in the manual when playing with his magnetic tiles or building toys alongside freestyle play. He's turning more 'worldly', I suppose.

I suppose I should be happy about it in the sense that he's learning to navigate the wider world in his own way, but I can't help worrying that at some point, this shift, this assimilation may (will?) come at the expense of his own authenticity. But again, perhaps that is me projecting my journey, my desires on him.

It reminds me of the poem 'To A Child' by Christopher Morley I had posted on the old blog (The Dream Pedlar's) two and a half years ago, when D was half his current age.

The greatest poem ever known
Is one all poets have outgrown:
The poetry, innate, untold,
Of being only four years old.
Still young enough to be a part
Of Nature's great impulsive heart,
Born comrade of bird, beast, and tree
And unselfconscious as the bee-
And yet with lovely reason skilled
Each day new paradise to build;
Elate explorer of each sense,
Without dismay, without pretense!
In your unstained transparent eyes
There is no conscience, no surprise:
Life's queer conundrums you accept,
Your strange divinity still kept.
Being, that now absorbs you, all
Harmonious, unit, integral,
Will shred into perplexing bits,-
Oh, contradictions of the wits!
And Life, that sets all things in rhyme,
may make you poet, too, in time-
But there were days, O tender elf,
When you were Poetry itself!
~ Christopher Morley

So on this day, as little D turns five years old, I want to capture here the funny things he used to say up until a few months ago. All the poetry that used to tumble out of his being, fully formed, straight from the subconscious of a two-year-old to an almost-five-year-old.

D: I'm going to lie here and watch.

Me: I'm also going to lie here and watch. But what are we watching?

D: The fan.

D: What if the laptop grows legs and walks away?

D: I feel like the clouds are going to fall.

Me: What will happen then?

D: We will carry them on our heads.

D: You know, there is someone who never makes mistakes.

Me: Who?

D: God!

Me: It's not that God doesn't make mistakes. God does everything. He just doesn't call them mistakes.

D (at bed-time): Stop this racket. Go away. Go find a chocolate and eat it. Then come back here.

D (in the bath): I love water. I love eating yummy food. I love eating toothpaste.

D (noticing a hole in the knee of his pyjama one morning): Why is there a hole in my pyjama?

Me: It is worn out, sweetie.

D: Do T-shirts get worn out?

Me: Yes.

D: Do people get worn out?

D: Dada, take the bus and go to India.

D: I sound like a jack-o-lantern.

D: It's ok, Mumma. It's ok to cry.

D lies down with a pillow and a blanket on the landing outside his room and calls Dada to come help him with his blanket. Dada comes and asks him why he's lying here on the landing. "Oh, I forgot I have to sleep in my bedroom," D exclaims, and promptly drags his pillow and blanket back into the bedroom.

D (at the park on a very windy spring morning): Stop this windy thing, Mumma.

D: There are two kinds of B. One is an alphabet. The other is an insect.

D: Mumumumumumumumumum

KrA: Mumumumumumumumumum

D (quoting from Fox in Socks): Please don't say such silly stuff, Sir!

D (drags a basketful of washed and dried clothes into the bedroom, places a dried-up play dough butterfly inside the basket, and declares): When I wake up, I will have a surprise!

D: I am gulping down my throat. Some gulp fell on my head. I need a hair shower tonight.

D was on a climbing spree. He climbed his teepee tent and toppled it, then was looking to topple down a floor lamp.

Me: Sweetie, that may fall and break.

D: Happy Christmas, Mumma!

D had made a craft for Easter and I hung it up on the door and I wanted him to come and take a look. He was busy playing with his train tracks.

Me: When you can, come take a look at this!

D: Mumma, you take a look for me.

D: I love watching ants, Mumma.

D: Will ants ride my scooter?

Me: I don't think so, sweetie. They are so tiny.

D: Maybe they can ride tiny scooters?

D, looks at himself in the mirror and yells, "Mumma, I found myself!"

Me (referring to our long-ago weekly visit for Toddler Days at Ireland House Museum): Tomorrow is Thursday! Where do we go on Thursdays?

D: On Thursdays, we go to Friday.

D unravels a ball of string and runs around the house, saying, "I am tying the house, Mumma."

D: I don't want to be a person. I want to be a dog.

D: I don't need to wear shoes. I am wearing my toes.

D: What is behind the sky?

D: I forgot to wear my hair. I left it in IKEA and it all went into an ant's tummy because the ant ate it all up. I don't have enough hair now.

D: Dad's bedroom is an office bedroom. Sometimes he sleeps there and it becomes a sleeping bedroom.

D curls up on his green chair and says, "I am waiting till my birthday, Mumma."

D: A snake got swollen and fell into a snowflake. It got swollen and fell into my heart, Mumma. Can you take out the snake that fell into my heart?

D: Mumma, when are you going to grow up?

Me: Am I still a child?

D: Yes!

A rainbow came briefly and disappeared.

D: Where has the rainbow gone? Has it gone to other places? Has it gone to sleep?

D: Mumma, can you please take my head out of my body and put it on your body?

Me: Who made you so cute?

D: Nobody. I just grew up like that.

D: In Haida Gwaii, they hide a gwai. A gwai has a round face and purple eyes and square hands and a piece of paper on its nose. It's legs look like some gooey. The toes look like garbage bins and the heels look like a door handle.

Me: I have too many things.

D: No, Mumma. You don't have too many things. You have things that you use and things that you don't use.

D (at bedtime): Mumma, keep hugging me till tomorrow morning.

D: Thank you for making super great things. When we think something is not possible, we should try till we get the hang of it. And if we keep trying new things, our brain will be happier than it was yesterday.

Happy, happy birthday, my child!

And because it's also Father's Day, here are D-isms that seem apt for this day. What greater ode to a dad than a child who says he wants to be like his dad when he grows up!

D: When I grow up, I'll be a Dada. Just like you, Dada.

D: When I grow up, I'll be a Dada. Which school should I go to where they'll teach me to be a Dada?

D: When I grow up, I'll be a Dada. I'll have three babies. One like you, one like me, one like Dada.