Category Archives: Parenting

Three Quilts

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All parents have had the experience of children wandering into their room late at night, afraid or disoriented, and asking, “Can I sleep with you?”  Rather than be angry or annoyed, we merely laid out the spare quilts, sewn by the children’s grandmothers.  And we all fell asleep again.  Waking early for work, I tip-toed over and around my sleeping children.  Home in the evening, their quilts lay on the floor like the discarded skins of pupaed caterpillars taken flight.  I hope you enjoy my poem memorializing that recollection.

THREE QUILTS

Three quilts lie in a corner of my room,
folded, again, neatly, again;
three queen-size quilts
sewn and tied by gifting grandmothers
who rest under blanketing memory,
leaving to me these warm tokens.

From night-sleep stupor,
I hear distantly the click of a switch, and a flush,
an apologetic knocking, and a whispered “Dad,”
more like the hiss of heavy breathing than a name.
In my knowing, I find the corners
of a folded quilt and toss it out its full length
upon the floor, by the bed, where there’s room.
I could order them back to their beds, but
there seems to always be room.

In the obscurity of my morning,
I have sense enough
to step gingerly over and around
the boys, asleep in their quilted cocoons;
my boys, rising each day
with a deep life-breath yawn and
a stretching of slumber-stiff limbs,
flying from their crumpled quilts,
like the discarded skins of metamorphosis, with
only air and sky ahead.

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Shoe Shine Boxes

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ONB

When I was a boy, my father scrounged scraps of oak plank and made himself a beautiful shoe shine box, of his own design, with his initials “ONB” carved on one end and chiseled greenery on the other.  He made a similar box for me, bearing my initials “REB”.

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REB

As boys, my four sons often watched me shine my shoes, asking me if I would please shine theirs.  Then they began asking if they could use my shoe shine stuff to shine their own shoes. They have enjoyed using my shoe shine box during their boyhood years.

This Christmas I presented to each of my sons their own shoe shine box.  It was time for them to have their own, to carry on the tradition.  For lack of tools, time, and skill, I simplified the design.  But I still find their shoe shine boxes elegant.

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I had planned to make the shoe shine boxes over the Thanksgiving weekend while staying with my parents.  Caleb (16) asked if he could stay one night with me, so I decided to let him in on the secret and help.

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After Caleb left, Grandpa, the original shoe shine box carpenter, helped me finish the boys’ boxes.

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My sons may be the only living boys to have such shoe shine boxes, in a three-generation genealogy of shoe shine boxes, made by their father and grandfather.

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I hope my sons find years of enjoyment and pride in shining their shoes with their shoe shine boxes.  And who knows: perhaps they will make such boxes for their own children someday.

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I hope you will find a unique and meaningful way to connect with your sons and daughters, and to carry on the traditions of your generations.

Nativity

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The mere thought of adding to the Christmas repertoire intimidated me from making the attempt.  But one quiet evening, as Christmas approached, I began to think of the baby Jesus, and to hum.  I thought of the star and the heavenly choir, of the Magi and their gifts, and of Mary holding her child wrapped in rags.  The Christmas lullaby “Nativity” arose from my musings.  Here is the sheet music for you to enjoy: Nativity.  Sing it softly to your own little ones as you put them to bed.

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Dreaming

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My children, when they were young, liked to be put to bed with a song.  I composed many little lullabies and songs, some of which are posted on this blog.  I tried to compose tunes and lyrics that would sooth and inspire each child.  But sometimes I composed something to just make them smile and laugh.  “Dreaming” is one such song and contemplates a child’s nonsensical but humorous dreams, ending with mother’s call to wake up in the morning.  I hope you enjoy it! Click here for the sheet music: Dreaming.

Chapter 41: Of Marriage, Lies, and Promises

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–Marriage is a long, clumsy dance, with frequent stepping on toes.–

I sat on the couch next to Angie while she held baby Hyrum over her shoulder.  Feeling romantic, I put my arm around her neck and shoulders.  My hand alighted upon a cold, wet spot of vomited breast-milk on the burp cloth draped over her shoulder.  She laughed at how “romantic” it was.  I joined in the chuckle after a momentary shiver of “ew.” Continue reading

My Child

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When small children are feeling hurt–on the inside or on the outside–they need to know that they can turn to someone for comfort, acceptance, and love.  They need to know that there is someone they can trust.  With our big-person problems, it can be challenging to find patience for a little child’s hurt.  But we must.  We must show our children that they can trust us and that we will be here for them when need us.  Otherwise they turn to others, often less trustworthy, or attempt to bury their pain deep inside, where it festers.  I wrote the poem “My Child” when Erin first went to a church nursery class at 18 months old.  I sat on the floor in the corner of room, keeping as low a profile as possible while she interacted with the other children and adults.  Erin came to me a time or two when her anxiety overcame her tranquility.  When she felt safe, she ventured off to play again.  She has now ventured off into the wide world, though she checks in once in awhile.

MY CHILD

Small child
clinging to me.
Soft cheek against my roughness,
delicate arms draped over my drooping shoulders.
Soothe your fears.
Let your tears fall and
wet my sleeve.
Let your love flow and
seep into my craggy heart.

Soon healed, your troubles forgotten,
release and turn away to play,
a smile on your small-child face,
a greater love in me.

Baby Zebra

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I composed the little song “Baby Zebra” to help baby John go back to sleep, laying spread-eagle on my chest, when what he really wanted was for his mother to nurse him back to sleep.  He asked me for a “be-be ze-ba” song: Baby Zebra, and I obliged.  The animal “zebra” can be replaced by most any other land animal, including elephant, ostrich, horse (horsie), or pig (piggie).  Change a few words around and it can work for birds and dolphins, too.  I hope you enjoy the song.  Here is a link to the sheet music to Baby Zebra.  (This song is referenced in the post Chapter 30: Good-Bye Harv of the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.)