It’s a little difficult to put into words how overawed – in a very proud way – I am by my oldest child today. My Big Boy is 15 and today I have seen something from him that is beyond his years, seriously, and it floored me.

A few weeks ago he was given an assignment at school. English is not his favourite subject, maybe to spite my calling in a previous life as an English teacher. I should clarify here that he does really quite well results-wise, but hey, let’s just admit that it’s not always with as much enthusiasm as he can muster for say umm the PS3, or Minecraft, or any other computer related thing … you relate, right? Anyhow, I digress …

The assignment entailed writing a poem, and then, gulp, delivering it aloud to the class. A bloody poem!!!! So, talking about it in the car on the way home from school we joked ourselves silly about writing a limerick. Aren’t limericks the benchmark of teenage boy self-penned poetry? Look, as a teacher I would certainly not have been surprised by a limerick …. or two ….

Eventually he decided to write a free verse poem and I do think that the avoidance of effort to rhyme may have somewhat influenced this decision. I left him to his own devices and his poem was written, submitted on time and really that could have been the end of this story.

I didn’t read or hear his poem but he did tell me, in passing, that it was on the topic of homelessness. “That sounds good sweetheart, now please put your dirty clothes in the laundry” or something of the kind was my response. He didn’t offer the poem to me and I respected this, not wishing to interfere.

He delivered his poem yesterday and received an A+. He told me that the whole class clapped and although it was a bit embarrassing, he was proud. Indeed, my Big Boy looked taller even, bursting with pride. As was I. Delightedly proud and I told him so. He then asked if I would like to read it and yes, of course I would but still, the piece of poetry didn’t arrive.

Today his English teacher tracked me down, wanting to tell me that he rarely, if ever gave A+ and for that grade a piece of work needed to be flawless. He enquired as to whether or not I had read the poem and was surprised when I admitted I hadn’t. He offered me a copy of it and sent it my way this afternoon.

I read this poem that my Big Boy wrote and felt a lump in my throat. How had I not realised before that my Big Boy is now actually a young man? The words on the page spoke of homelessness with such insight and compassion that my mother heart sang. This poem, his poem, told the story of addiction and relapse and the shame of all we have when many have less or even nothing, but most of all it told the story of hope. Layer upon layer of meaning, created in a way the reader stops dead in their tracks to think. The A+ is wonderful, but what I’ve discovered about my Big Boy and the eyes through which he views the world is beyond that, it’s priceless. I do hope that he will allow me to publish his poem here and I will certainly ask him if I can share it.

proud mum

Yes, mama, is roaring … but until then, my dear Big Boy, I have written a limerick just for you …..

There once was a Big Boy of mine

who penned some sweet verse which was fine

he did very well with the task

in his mum’s pride he may bask

but leaving crap on his floor draws the line 😉

* I first published this piece over at
photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

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