Bruce Ditman tells of pulling strings & sealing wax
We were on our second lamp when I had an idea.
You had already broken the first one, a nice one, Ikea?
Or was it Pottery Barn? Or maybe … who cares?
You were smashing lamps, is all, like Bonham smashed snares.
I would replace lamp for lamp, with will indefatigable
You would repent and submit, your demeanor more compatible
with the type of bedtime behavior one sees on TV
With “good nights” and “sweet dreams”, just my sweet boy and me.
I foresaw a face so cherubic, could say, even angelical.
Add my tone and restraint, our detente was inevitable.
But, my tiny terroristical amigo,
We took a turn, somewhere ugly, and into so we go
a battle to end all battles before it.
One for the ages, in the books they will store it.
Tired Daddy and tired son was the volatile mixture.
Our war waged, unassuaged, with a flying light fixture.
It was clear that it would not be our night,
that night, we decided, that might would be right.
It was over very little that you smashed your first lamp.
That tiny sweet hand, with it’s thumbie still damp
from sucking it as was still your habit,
you reached that hand out and deftly, you grabbed it
and in a fit of what seemed acute indignation
you hoisted that lamp (the one with a train in a station
and a conductor decked out in striped overalls
and the beautiful colors that matched those on your walls)
and so chucked it, you did, unceremoniously too, to
the hardwood floor below and into pieces it blew.
Well, well, fool me once, my diminutive son
of a gun and on you goes the shame
but fooled twice and it’s me they’ll certainly blame
So next a flashlight was offered as the replacement solution.
A little old torch but what a contusion!
You see (I learned) a mag-light is very adept
on the shins of certain adults, who just want to fix it
that problem of lighting, of fighting, to nix it
but after this battling, and up we did mix it
I remained dumbfounded, between it, betwixt it.
I’d give him a candle if it weren’t for matches
I’d give him a flint that sparks when it scratches
but certain that ashes is all we would yield,
transforming this house beautiful to a stream and a field.
So in the dark, now, sits the boy quiet and calm
perhaps waiting for someone, a dad or a mom
to offer him another method by which he could read
about knights and villains, their swords and their steeds,
about pirates who took off short planks such very long walks
about Alice and rabbits, about caterpillars that talk
about Peters and Wendys and, gasp!, Captain Hooks
And Pinnochio and Jiminy and foxes and crooks
About cowboys and indians and lassos and such
for him and his books, no such thing as too much.
His books gave him joy in his bed with his lamp
but now, instead, his pillow, not a pirate, grew damp.
Just quiet and blackness and blankets, the house was asleep
When into his heart regrets began to creep.
While it feels good, he thought, to smash when you’re mad
It’s not smart, he observed, if that’s all the light that you had
and next time, before the lighting beheading
I’ll deeply breathe and remember regretting.
And maybe Dad’s anger at me just wasn’t letting
him see me and just how very upsetting
it is, for me, to not have any real say
in what I do, where I go, in my day to day.
And, out in the hall, now Dad is reflecting
on how his yelling wasn’t nearly as affecting
as he thought it would or had hoped it might be
as it was frustration, not anger, expressed angrily.
And maybe, they thought, each one in his bed,
next time, the time-out should be both theirs, instead.
For remember that yelling never earns sleeping
and breaking’s rarely a better option than keeping
the things that we love and need, safe and sound,
not tattered in pieces, scattered aground.
So they reflected on breaking or taking or making a scene,
they thought of the pleading, the plotting and cooking of scheme
And decided, each one, they’ll next time concede it
and be, for each other, what’s truly most needed.