Weekend links & poetry

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Here is our resident poet’s imaginative re-telling of the Make Way for Ducklings story, by Robert McCloskey. Read and enjoy…

Making Way for Ducklings

He couldn’t hack it—the strain was too great.
Between my demand for a suitable place to nest
and the neediness of our eight—yes, eight—newborns,
one day he just cracked. Decided “he’d like to take a trip
to see what the rest of the river was like”—and that was that.

I watched his retreating back and wondered if maybe
this wasn’t simpler—after all, this way I could pour
every drop of energy into the task before me:
To train these young ones to move about in the world,
to heed the laws of nature and society.

But—by the time it was second nature
for them to follow me (no questions asked),
my satisfaction with their society was at its end:
I had to get off the island.

We marched down Charles Street
and the thought floated through my head
that he might not be there to meet us as he’d said—
and who would blame him? I had dismissed our need for rest.
I’d forgotten him in the flattery of their imprinting.

All of Boston’s traffic had backed up for our protection
while my mind was swimming with the question:
How will we survive—not the crossing of Beacon Street—
but this expansion from couple to family?

Rounding the corner, the drift of the issue
grew as clear as the mirrored surface of the pond
before the swan boats begin their slow loops:
I’m in over my head; I need a breather, 
and I need my partner.

As we entered the garden, I held my breath:
Was there any way at all to sway his decision?
Then I turned to see him, standing there, waiting for us—
his old buoyant self, bolstered by his hiatus,
and relieved, with me, by our reunion.

© Sarah Dunning Park, 2012

Do you have any favorite family dynamics in classic children’s literature? Frances the Badger and her parents? The Runaway Bunny? Please share!

Tsh and Sarah

Tsh compiled today's list of links. Today's poem is by our poet-in-residence, Sarah Dunning Park, whose book, What It Is Is Beautiful, contains poems about the complexities of being a mom. Writing this poetry sometimes helps her be a better mother, and sometimes leads her to yell at everyone to let her think in peace. Sarah and her husband, Charlie Park, run PearBudget.com, and attempt to be good parents for their three daughters.

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  1. Oh, my heart! This poem weaves together such tangible emotions and a story near and dear to my heart. I love it! So glad you posted it here today.

    • Thank you so much, Annie! I dearly love this story, too. We had a period of a few months when my kids wanted it read to them *over* and *over* and *over*… And that line of Mr. Mallard’s always struck me as hilarious and loaded… 🙂

  2. I love “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen! Come to think of it, it’s about a dad going on an adventure with his kids. It’s been a family favorite for years. All of my kids love it, and even my two year old knows some of the words now.

  3. Lovely links – as always! The poetry? Amazing.

  4. I LOVE that creative retelling! Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  5. That first article is so interesting and speaks to my belief that we need to praise effort and not a supposedly-innate ability we’re born with. The article is new to me because it’s the first I’ve heard that there’s a difference with the way adults speak to boys vs girls. Hope you don’t mind if I share the link!

  6. Thanks for sharing my post. xx

  7. Carolyn says:

    Just wanted to let you know I started reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I love it. I am so far away from living like she does — but the book has given me a much needed perspective shift. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Flopsy and Cottontail learned a lot from watching Peter. He got in trouble all the time ‘cause he was so rebellious. He told his mother (and his father, before that gentleman rabbit met his demise) exactly what he was thinking and incessantly argued with her about what he wanted to do. Her patience was sorely tried by Peter.

    As a result of observing Peter and his problems, Flopsy and Cottontail were not rebellious. They especially benefitted from contemplating the results of his latest actions. Their mother went to town to do her marketing and she explicitly told them to stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden. She vividly made her point by reminding the bunnies of what had happened to their father in said garden. They all listened attentively while planning how to have fun while Mom was gone.

    Peter, who knew all along he was going to do exactly what his mother forbade him to do, hopped right out of their burrow and made himself flat as he squeezed under Farmer McGregor’s gate. Mopsy, who never had an original idea or a rebellious thought in her head, played with her fluff on the soft sand floor of the burrow. Flopsy and Cottontail, knowing that their mother had previously warned them about going to the Peace Hill yard but not caring to obey her instructions, went straight away to the appealing grass. There was so much clover to eat! And after they filled their tummies, they rolled and scampered in the mulch under the fir tree. Sometimes they brought Mopsy if she promised never to tell their mom. The bunnies didn’t know that the folks there would never hurt them because they looked forward every day in spring to watching the bunnies and their antics.

    Peter had a horrible time of it in Farmer McGregor’s garden. Why would Flopsy and Cottontail want to be scared half out of their wits by being chased by the mean man waving his hoe at them? And they were very afraid of his cat. They had heard about cats from their cousin, Benjamin. Peter did get to eat radishes and cabbages and lettuce, but it cost him his new blue jacket and stylish shoes when he tried to run away. He later admitted that he had been extremely frightened and even cried when he couldn’t find his way out. The mouse with the pea in her mouth had been no help at all. (They had never found mice to be helpful in any way).

    After all the running, and crying, and eating too much, he was so sick when he got home that he couldn’t eat the yummy milk and blackberries that Mother prepared for supper.

    He did have Mom all to himself as she put a cold cloth on his head and spooned chamomile tea into his mouth a little at a time. And the other bunnies flopped on the floor close to the bedroom door so they could hear her soothing voice as she talked with Peter while he fell asleep.

  9. Good day! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  10. To train these young ones to move about in the world to heed the laws of nature and society.

  11. We marched down Charles Street and the thought floated through my head
    that he might not be there to meet us as he’d said and who would blame him.

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