Toddler Country

A stout toddler on points duty at an impatient intersection:
Red: Stop. Green: Go go go! Cool.
Intense, Staffy-like gaze and acceptance of rules.

This is toddler country, where direct speech means just that:
Direct. And where words mean just what they say,
And are tossed around like toys in play.

We can order whatever we want from today’s menu.
Book. Garden. Digger digging. Tiger taming.
It is simply a matter of naming.

Even the colours here have simple names, like the beat of a drum.
Red, blue, yellow, green. Go. Come. Run RUN!
And all is shiny and unbreakable. Just like the sun.

I would like to live in toddler country
Where words can be thrown like Duplo blocks.
No like. Go ‘way. Come back. Out! – to communicate
Needs, moods, opinions, each syllable with a shout.

“No like” (the book from a dear friend of mine.)
“No like” (the cake the neighbour brought you.)
“No like” (a friend from yesterday.)
“No like” (the soup I made for you today.)
“No like” (a jacket, exquisitely, made by a niece,
Whispering, ‘I love you’ in its every fold and crease.)

Where I now live, old people land,
Words, like washing in the wind or clouds on a summer day,
Deceive, change shape and can even blow away.
Sometimes they can be like the thinnest ice,
Or brittle spun sugar on an anniversary cake
That previously I’ve never had time to bake.

In toddler country no one is a permanent resident
But I wish only for a one-year work permit.
I want to swagger a bit, order elderly retainers about,
and say “No like. Go ‘way. Come back. Out!”
Without reprisals, recrimination and responsibility.
“Dinner ready. Get it. Now. Read-y-eeee!

I could leave behind my should I, shouldn’t I,
My wishy-washy, my shilly-shally, my doubt.
I could break a carefully laid train track and throw the trains away –
Yes, throw them across a room. I have spoken.
Then later, when I feel like it, and for no reason,
Put them back together again. Cooly cool.
With no trauma and no bones broken.


4 thoughts on “Toddler Country

  1. I love this one, Janice. Not only the way you use rhyme, but the whole psyche of the piece. Reminds me why I liked kindergarten teaching years ago (before lesson plans, accountability and the stupid side of PC-ness became mandatory), having permission to delight in their freedom and emotional honesty. Direct, Indeed. Ironically, in those days, my position was ‘Director’. Far from bossing kids around, ‘directors’ could revel in the children’s directness – as we do as mothers and grandmothers. Ahhhh! Thank you. I hope your poetry finds its way into a wee book one of these days.

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