Chittlin's and Chopsticks

Writer and mother, Terris McMahan Grimes, the Mother From Another Continent, an her friends share their slighty off kilter parenting views and their takes on a whole lot of other things.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hit that Misbehaving Child--With a Poem

All you Air Moms, Air Aunties, and Air Grannies out there, listen up. It's been a while since I shared any parenting tips with you. Here's one to make up for my lapse. Remember, these are actual techniques that I've used over the past thirty years. They worked for me and they will work for you, too. (Want to know what Air stands for? You'll find the answer in an earlier post.)

The day you bring your little darling home from the hospital, memorize completely the poem, Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes. Here it is. Take a moment to commit it to memory. Trust me. It will pay off. Besides, February is African American History Month and nothing says that better than a little Langston Hughes.

Mother to Son

by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

You won't need it until Timberlake Technique loses it's effectiveness around the preteen years. But keep it fresh in your memory. We must remain battle ready. Recite it to yourself from time to time.

Now, when your child's complains about taking out the garbage, making her bed, or living in the same household as you, and you get the point where your “switch” hand is starting to itch (an earlier post, honey) —loudly recite the poem to her in its entirety. Please note, the “mother” speaks in a dialect common among African Americans living in the Sixteenth Section of Jefferson County, Arkansas, during the early part of the last century. For added effectiveness, master that dialect and use it lavishly.

For a girl, simply substitute the word “child” for “son.”

Should your child suffer from oppositional defiance (actually a condition that the parent suffers if the child has it) or should she insist on complaining about the living standard you have provided by the sweat of your brow, you may want to arm yourself with Paul Lawrence Dunbar's, Life, which opens with, “A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in...”

Now, get out there and do some parenting!


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