Monday 19 March 2018

Poetry Monday: A Childhood Lesson

It's Poetry Monday! You can join in by reading, writing or borrowing a poem. The suggested topic this week is "a lesson from childhood." Choose another topic if you wish. Join Diane, Delores, and me (and others - see the comments) as we turn our brain pockets inside out to shake out the memories from our young years and make sense of them at a far-removed point in time known as "now."

If you want to play along, leave a poem in the comments at any of our blogs, or in the comments here, or on your own blog. In the latter case, please leave us your blog address so we can come along and read and enjoy.  Have fun!


The lesson that most stands out from my childhood was one I learned - rather painfully - when I was about eight.

My family and I had attended my cousin's wedding, and we were ready to drive my paternal grandmother home following the reception. As my cousin - the bride - was leaving the hall, she presented my grandmother with a rose from her bouquet. It was a touching moment and the effect was not lost on me. But I was thinking, wouldn't it be even nicer to give her the whole bouquet?

As we sat in the car waiting for traffic to clear, I turned to my mother and stated that when I got married, I wouldn't give my grandmother one rose from my bouquet ----- and at that point was told by my justifiably horrified mother to hush. She wouldn't listen to the rest of my thought, which was that I would want to give Grammy the whole bouquet. Mom just hushed me again, saying "That's enough!" in the voice that I knew meant business.

When we got home I tried to explain, but afterward all she said was, "Well." I felt unjustly accused and injured and misunderstood, and was sad that I had probably hurt my grandmother's feelings and she would never know what I had intended.

But I did learn that there is a good way and a bad way to talk about things.

As a suitably ironic footnote to this story, when I got married many years later, I presented to my grandmother . . . . . . a single rose from my bouquet. As often happens in life, even the best of intentions can be undone by circumstances. My husband's grandmother could not attend the wedding due to ill health, and we delivered the rest of the bouquet to her in the hospital as a way of including her in our day.

I wonder if my grandma remembered then what I had blurted out so many years before.

I did.

And I still do, half a century later.


Half A Thought Is Worse Than None

A happy occasion: a cousin's wedding;
Young and old and every age in between.
Confetti and cake and Sunday clothes and flowers ...
Ah . . . the flowers.
A single rose
Given, with love, to Grammy by the bride;
Noticed, with interest, by a little girl
Who decided her Grammy deserved
Not a single rose
But the entire bouquet.

Lacking, as yet, the facility to think very far ahead,
The little girl began the thought aloud:
"I wouldn't give Grammy one rose --"
She meant she'd give her Grammy every rose instead.

Never had a chance to finish the thought ...
Never had a chance to repair the damage ...
But learned a valuable life lesson --

It's not just the thought that counts.
It's the words, too.

Courtesy of Pixabay


Have you ever have the wrong words slip from your lips, when you  meant something very different? Did you have a chance to correct it?

NOTE: Next week's suggested topic: Your favourite thing to see or do . . .


River said...

How sad that your mother hushed you so quickly. It spoiled a happy moment for you and trying to explain the rest of it later isn't the same. If only she had listened or at least asked why you wouldn't give one rose, so you could then complete the statement. I am pleased that you gave the bouquet from your wedding to the grandmother in hospital though.

Elephant's Child said...

I think it was Rumi who said that poetry is the language of the heart. And yours is certainly very evident here. Ouch. There are some things which still make me cringe in shame. And probably always will.

kylie said...

What a shame your mother didn't allow you to finish. She would have been delighted with your sentiments.

There was a time when I was very young I started playing with sounds b-uck, c-uck, d-uck ....
My mother was frantically telling me to stop and I had no idea why e-uck, f-uck. Well she lostthe plot, didn't she? As if I had any clue what it was all about.
I never played with sounds in front of her again

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I applaud your poem O'Jenny. It is intimate and focuses upon an ordinary moment that nevertheless was a milestone in the little girl's development.

Marie Smith said...

Yes indeed. Occasions when I could have explained myself better come to mind. Then again, people have to give us the opportunity to speak or explain ourselves, not jump to conclusions. The take away for me is to really listen to others.

Red said...

Poets always have a good story that goes along with their poem. I can identify with this as I've said stuff that I'd rather not have said.

Steve Reed said...

I don't think your words were necessarily wrong -- I think your mom should have let you finish your thought!

Terry said...

I’ve never said something which I didn’t mean to. I don’t think so, anyway. I just wish I hadn’t existed in the first place. There’s always been a point in life when I thought that way. Something has always stopped me being totally happy. That’s just the way I am. I detached myself from anything that happened around me. I admit it’s a strange way of looking at things but it is what it is. So, in short the answer is no. Most of you will have forgotten what the question was at this point.

only slightly confused said...

Isn't it just awful how some things stick in your mind and you can never...never...get them out. I'm sure your grannie came to understand what you really meant.

jenny_o said...

I can understand why my mom did that, but I felt awful that I couldn't finish the thought because it was supposed to be a good thing :)

jenny_o said...

I hear you. This wasn't the only one for me; I've had plenty of learning moments. Just different lessons.

jenny_o said...

Hahaha! Oh how awful but how funny! I did something similar; it was another misunderstood moment with my mother. I had distorted "shucks" into "shicks" as an expression of dismay, for some reason, and my mom half-heard and thought I was saying sh*t. Unlike innocent you, I DID know what she thought I said and my face burned with shame! Once again, she wouldn't let me explain!!

Oh dear, I am still chuckling over your comment! It was a sign of an intelligent mind, of course. But to be playing with that particular sound - bad luck :)

jenny_o said...

Thanks, YP. The memory is still all too clear.

jenny_o said...

That is something I hadn't really focused on, Marie (too horrified at my gaffe, even now) but it is an excellent point. I do hope I listened to my own children. Perhaps I should ask them now what they think!

jenny_o said...

Probably we all have done it. Being human and all that :)

I'm never sure whether to explain my poems or not. It seems like giving extra homework! ha ha

jenny_o said...

That was my thinking, too, of course :)

But as a mother I also know the feeling that a child is about to say something embarrassing, or maybe just add to what is already that way! I did learn my lesson.

jenny_o said...

That has to be a difficult way to feel, Terry. I suspect it's connected to your depression? As Elephant's Child puts it so well, depression is a liar. It makes us think things that have no basis in fact. However, if it has kept you from saying something you regret, perhaps that's a bit of a silver lining.

jenny_o said...

To be honest, I don't know if she even heard me. I was in the front seat between my mother and father, and she was in the back seat. She was such a kind, quiet, gentle person she would never have said anything or even behaved any differently. Maybe that also means she understood there was more in my head than that. I hope so.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

A Childhood Lesson

Panting in summer bracken
Speechless with rage
A mile from the campsite
Where the wrongs occurred
Realisation came
That I had to go back
To Mum’s sharp tongue
To Dad’s weighty clout
To fraternal derision
As early evening hunger
Consigned my indecision
To this memory
Of being nine
And the time I ran away
For less than half a day.

jenny_o said...

That is a hard lesson - a bitter pill to swallow. Well conveyed, YP. Thanks for your contribution.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Absolutely priceless! And so true!
Oh, those things left half-said!

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Oh, to have to swallow one's pride and return! Very well told.
The anger radiates still!

e said...

I'm sure both grandmas appreciated their roses, yours particularly.

dinthebeast said...

Excellent poem, Jenny.
As I was, as my mother put it, an "uninhibited" child, I said all kinds of things that I didn't really understand, but turned out to be sort of funny.
Like the time I was showing off my reading skills by reading my kindergarten report card in front of the whole family, but misread the part about "progress toward maturity" as "progress toward maternity".
I couldn't understand what everyone was laughing about, but I guess it was pretty hilarious, as my mom told the story at work and afterward whenever she said anything to them about her kids they would ask her whether I was making any progress...

-Doug in Oakland

jenny_o said...

Especially when it's the wrong half that's been said :)

jenny_o said...

I think they did. I hope they did.

jenny_o said...

Uninhibited - heh heh

That is hilarious! I think you must have had a precocious vocabulary, being able to misread maturity as maternity!

Martha said...

Oh, we all have these moments from our childhood...

As a mom, I could see the reasoning behind your mom's handling of you. She obviously thought you were headed in a different direction and was somewhat mortified at the embarrassment that was about to ensue! Now that my kids are older I can see mistakes I have made and times where I made assumptions I shouldn't have. Live and learn.

I've no doubt that your roses (a single one or many) were very much appreciated from the grandmas.

jenny_o said...

Mom was definitely figuring I was going in the wrong direction! I don't blame her!

Anonymous said...

How awful, but like Martha above I could understand your mum not wanting you to continue in case it was embarrasing and it would also have put your cousin in a bad light with her/your grandma in that she didn't give the whole bouquet. There may have been a reason of which you didn't know about, but your mum and grandma did.

My contribution has been a rushed effort today as I wasn't going to take part because i couldn't honestly think of any lessons that I'd learned in my childhood and then I thought about my dancing classes.

When I was two or three years old my dad took me for a walk to my grandparents which wasn't very far, but for a two/three year old just starting to walk it would have been walking to the moon and back. Anyway my legs became bow-shaped and my mum blamed THAT walk. She enrolled me into dancing classes at my school which were on Saturday mornings. I must have been going there for over a year when I became friends with another girl new to the area. She wanted me to play with her on a Saturday morning instead of dancing so, being easily influenced, I gave dance classes up. More fool I!

When I was just a lass,
My mum enrolled me into a class,
Of lessons in ballet and tap,
More sedate than hip-hop or rap.
After a while we put on a show,
For others to see our dancing glow,
But like all things it came to an end,
When I got together with a new best-friend.
She wanted my time on a Saturday morn,
So sadly, this budding star was not born.
Looking back I did choose wrong,
In play over dance. I should have been strong,
A lesson learned and still held dear,
Do what you enjoy without those who interfere.

To let you know my legs did get straight, so that short time was worth it and my mum did the right thing.

Have a good week.

Joan (Devon)

jenny_o said...

You are so right, Joan - I put that in my post to begin with (that my comment amounted to criticizing my cousin) but I deleted it during the editing stage in an attempt to shorten it up . . . I really should have left it in! I'm glad you mentioned it.

Your lesson is a good one that we could all benefit from. At the same time, perhaps you gained something from your friendship that you wouldn't otherwise have learned, too.

Thanks for joining in again!

Anonymous said...

No Jenny, that friendship didn't last as they moved away from the village.

I did go to another ballet school, but didn't go after the first lesson. It wasn't the same.

Joan (Devon)

Diane Henders said...

I was wincing as I read your account - my heart still hurts for the times when I said something well-meant but not well-considered, and then realized later how it might have sounded. If it happens I now, I get in touch with the person involved and apologize; and without exception they say, "Oh, it's fine; I never would have taken it that way"... but I always wonder whether they're generously trying to save my feelings in return. And if I can't contact the person afterward, I feel terrible whenever I think about the exchange. I wish my mouth came with a rewind button!

jenny_o said...

Maybe that's something medical science should investigate for people like us! :)

baili said...

Dear Jenny this post is sooo TOUCHING!!!

best part of it (to me) that your bouquet meant to go to your hubby's grandma and somehow your pure desire to offer your complete affection(bouquet) to grandma was fulfilled .

Yes in life sometimes words slip from mouth with good intention though but do not convey our true concerns to others.

It happened when my one of my uncle (mom's brother) died and after funeral when my aunt was lamenting upon his death and my my mother was consoling her .
i tried to help with my silly words (i was 13) .
i said front of whole sad gathering

"dear aunt please don't cry God will give you more children and you won't be alone anymore)

whenever i visit to the village my girlfriend never forget to remind me this foolishness ,they still tease me that i was so duffer to say such words as i should have known that how can she produce children without husband (that is me)

baili said...

oh forgot to say that LOVED your story and poetry equally !

special THANKS!!!

for your kind sweet words ,my fever is not leaving completely because in this winter flu had caught me many times and fever seems to result of it .

i wish and pray that you are doing perfectly fine now health wise and enjoying the beauty of life and nature enormously .
love and hugs!

jenny_o said...

OH NO!! Oh, baili, you made me laugh but I know how mortified you must have been when you realized it! But I am sure it also lifted some hearts which saw the humour in it. And they would see your thoughtfulness in trying to ease your aunt's sadness.

Sometimes I think to myself, why did I just not say anything at all, but at the time, a person is just trying to help. And that is not a bad thing to do at all :)

jenny_o said...

I have been lucky so far this winter but it seems you have not been as lucky. I hope with the better weather you will shake off the flu and get feeling better finally. Try to get some extra rest if you can!

Jono said...

Once the words find their way out there isn't much else to do but apologize.

jenny_o said...

Apologies are good :)

Geo. said...

Beautiful poem, Jenny. But I will comment on Baili's anecdote: I'm sure everyone present understood. Be at peace, brave lady (brave enough to recount that episode from age 13). We're all a circus of those.

jenny_o said...

And baili, please read Geo.'s comment below. I agree, you are brave to tell your story.

jenny_o said...

It takes courage to tell some of the things we've done, Geo. I know this all too well from the things I've chosen NOT to write about!

Terry said...

Probably connected to my depression, yes. But there again everything is.

Chicken said...

Aw. I'm sorry that happened. As a parent, I believe I've been guilty of shutting down a thought or action too soon to understand the full picture. It's one of the lessons I've learned in life. As a child, the biggest lessons were don't steal stuff and don't tease a bully. I learned both the hard way:-)

jenny_o said...

I sense a couple of stories that could be blogged about :) That's the good thing about bad stuff, we generally get wiser after doing it. The only good thing, I might add.