And They All Lived Happily
All bad guys died in the end.
My kiss did make bruises better.
It was right to put lost teeth under a pillow
and that time, when you didn’t find money,
there really was a tooth-fairy holiday.
I told the truth about castor oil
as you have grown big and strong.
Broccoli, porridge, the last bit on your plate,
have been the making of you.
I really believed your Granny would get better.
I didn’t think your eyes would possibly stick
that way, but it seemed the thing to say.
That report card wasn’t worth all my giving out,
I knew your teacher had a pick against you
but how to admit that to a ten-year-old?
We weren’t made of money. I did need a break.
Our dog did go to live on a farm, for a while.
When I said I’ll think about it. I did.
You do know I was I right about that girl.
Honestly, most of the time, I told you the truth.
This poem began as a reflection on parenting and the stories I told my sons. There were times when a soft lie was kinder than a brutal truth. There was protection, learned reactions, humour and plain tiredness. These ideas became And They All Lived Happily, a personal poem. It now feels that, through Poetry Ireland, the poem has been energised. The words have resonated with others; young parents, parents with adult children and those who heard these words as children. I feel the circularity of life in this and I am grateful to Poetry Day Ireland. #PoetryDayIre.