Can poetry hurt us?

The pediatrician tells me this morning not to write letters or stories about Caroline being “our difficult child.”

My poems record her screaming cries but also her smiles and ready laugh,

bellyful and deep.

Can poetry hurt us?

Can I tell the truth in ways that liberate and strengthen the tender shoot of psyche as it grows into trunk then tree?

Can poetry hurt us?

I have been afraid of my words.  Steve disdains the sing song tone I employ when speaking words I know I should say.  I’ve got the filter on always, the frontal lobe clicking with synapses integrating scholarship on child development and social theory with what I see as I play with the girls.  And now, I hear the sing song in Margaret’s voice–joyfully–when she is playing Mama to Caroline.  “It’s OK sweetie,” she coos, “Caroline is sad.”  Lately she has been particularly generous when sharing her new panda bear with her little sister.

Children who are higher maintenance as toddlers, with more tantrums and tears, are often leaders when they grow up, our pediatrician responds when I ask for a strengths perspective.

“So you’re not going to get into the car with the drunk driver when he asks you to,” I say to Caroline as she protests my pulling her leggings back on after her checkup. “No, you’ll drive your own self home.”  I bet she will.  And I love her for it.

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