Natural Selection

In the children’s area of our local Louisiana library

standing tall

an armful of this week’s haul of crinkly books.

Explaining, to the appalled assembled parentage of

Madison, Ellie, Aubrey,

Brok, Brendan, Holly and Bree,

why my three year old

zebra print bow gathered up in her curls

has just leaned forward

comfortable on the blue plastic couch

to cup her hands around her mouth and clearly shout:

“Mom, did you get any books with the naked people in it?”

“It’s Eric Carle,” I say

to the suspicious mommy grandma big sister faces

“one of his books, ‘Draw me a star.”

But by the time I’ve described the artist as an analogy for God

I realize I never should have explained to begin with.

Who can explain the point, or the pulchritude, of a picture book.

There is nothing to defend, there is nothing to do but

stack up the books on top of the stroller

16 month old strapped back in below the dangerous tower of words

three year old galloping ahead to the circulation desk

behind us

shelves of books waiting their turn.


2 thoughts on “Natural Selection

  1. So picturesque! In this poem I am also there, mortified and disheveled, balancing books in one hand and trying to wrangle a pre-schooler with the vocabulary of the thirty year old with my free hand. I read an article about trying to bring a toddler into a restaurant and the author described the experience as trying to corner a feral cat with an audience judging every move. That is how I imagine parenthood to be like.
    But all aside, look at these beautiful girls so blessed with a mother who dutifully takes them to a library to pour over books and learn words and letters and meet people! They have no idea how good they have it. And, most likely if you raise them right, will never know because they will assume it is what is just done. Until they are older and drunk on wine and have met people who have never owned a book and use words like ‘seen’ incorrectly and have petty fights with boyfriends, then your girls will come home and be astounded by all the cool things you’ve done for them. Or I will instill beatings with sticks, so help me God.
    Great piece! You are so very very very talented!

    • I just snort laughed at this! And, you are so right: the greatest reward, I agree, to great parenting (not that I’m all that great, all the time, but it’s the overall impression I’m shooting for,) is to raise kids who will just know it as their baseline until they spend lots, and lots, of independent time out in the wide world. Then they’ll figure out all the wonderful things we offered them…of course, they’ll also figure out where the crazy was lurking too, but, c’est la vie. That’s the cycle of life.

      Hahaha. That tricky word “seen.”

      Oh, jeez.

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