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A Boy at Ten and Twenty
  -Helen Early

A Boy at Ten:

Waiting for the School Bus

We catch each other glancing at the clock,
He should be home by now.
Not worried, but anticipating,
Today we’re both home,
We’ll have some time with him today.

Time--earnestly we seek it , prize it,
But at day’s end it’s slipped our grasp.
Oh the work’s been done,
Well mostly done, we’ve gotten by;
But what of joy?
Where was time to just enjoy the boy?

Boy, man-child
Soon to be no longer child
What was it we did together yesterday?

There was the game he found deep in his closet,
And with glee brought out.
“Look! I found it! Come and play.”
I saw only Missing Pieces,
And at the end of my discoursing,
On Neatness and Responsibility,
No time remained to play.

Then I drove him for his lesson.
What was it he was describing?
I remember only chiding
“We’ll be late again today.”

Home again and TV claimed him,
And then the homework,
Does it really take so long?
Or is it just his way of escaping,
His excuse to close his door.

School has more of him than we do,
And knows him better too.
They see him on the playground--
“Interacting with his peers”
They call it now.
They see his false bravado
On coming up to bat,
The flash of mad frustration,
When answers aren’t down pat.

The bus has passed, he’s coming down the lane.
There’s someone with him--
“Mother I brought Jenny home,
She wants to see the bird house that I built.”

He tilts his head and gives a tentative, expectant smile.
I’ve seen that look before,
Been seeing it ever since, as two year old,
I found him at the cookie jar.

It says “I know we planned this morning,
You and Dad and I,
To bike out to Miller’s field. I’ve my new kite to fly.
But you know I’d rather play with kids.”

He knows we won’t gainsay him,
I only hope that future Jennys will seem as fine.
I think of future waitings,
Perhaps soon there’ll be no coming home at all.
Will Fort Lauderdale still be in with the college crowd?

Boy, man-child, child of our love,
May the world deal gently with you,
And so with us.

And Now at Twenty:

We have not lost him
There\'s still a coming home at times.
But there are no more Jennys
His partner\'s Daniel now.
He seems as fine as Jenny did,
That day so long ago.

We had no thought in those days
That this was where his future lay,
This, what was ordained to be.

Now he’s said the words
And we know the whole of him.
He trusted us and we’ve grown closer still.

We\'ve grown fiercely protective
Of this new family that is part of ours.
Our love surrounds the two of them.
May the world still deal gently with them,
And with all of you.
Helen Rawson Early

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