I lie to my child more than I’d like–telling him everything will be ok, for ex, that we’ll always protect him, etc. Today I picked up Garrisson Keillor’s book Good Poems for Hard Times and came across two poems about parents lying to their children.
The first, Fleur Adcock’s “For a Five-Year-Old,” is about a mother lying about her own inner nature to her child. It begins
A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
The other is David Ignatow’s “For My Daughter in Reply to a Question.” It’s full of lies, which is apparent from the first few lines of the piece:
We’re not going to die.
We’ll find a way.
We’ll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
These two remind me of “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith, one of the poems that went viral after the recent massacre in Orlando:
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
Katy Waldman has a short interview with Smith about this poem up at Slate, which is where I first found out about it. For a few days after reading it I couldn’t get the refrain of it out of my head, and I thought of it esp. when I was thinking of the shootings at the same time my kid was in an unrelated sad mood & I was holding him as he cried about not wanting to grow up. At least the poem ends on a relatively good note.