Saturday, April 18, 2009


                                  Thomas Hart Benton

A simple painting of a boy; he's balanced on a rock.
I look intently at the scene, and now I'm taking stock.
It's not a modern picture, that's easy to discern;
It's from a time with a way of life that's not going to return.
Where is the Mother hovering? Where are the 'Warning' signs?
I see they're missing! It's not hard to read between the lines....
This was painted in nineteen-thirty, when life had an easy pace,
And letting Sonny 'wander off' not a matter for disgrace!
He may fall in the water! Or , maybe, graze his knee!
For he is off adventuring, unsupervised and free.
How did we survive, my friends, in those days of long ago,
When the world was an enormous place but the pace of life was slow?
We were always falling out of trees and getting scratched and bruised,
But no-one called a lawyer, for no-one was accused.
Likewise with walking into doors, or tripping on a stone,
It was just 'Ho-hum! We must take care not to break another bone!'
The babies thrived on eating dirt; that was to be expected,
And no-one ever thought to say those babies were neglected.
If the teacher punished us at school our parents said 'What for?
Sounds like the punishment was deserved! Here's a little more!'
We'd spend all day in the countryside or in the local park
And all Mum said was 'Just make sure you're home before it's dark.'
We made our fragile go-carts out of wood and rusty wheels;
On the downward run, if we went too fast, we fell head-over-heels!
Of course, there were bullies everywhere, bullies were the rule,
That was only to be expected; they were part of school.
Life was a rough-and-tumble, a sure and accepted fact;
We weren't delicate little blossoms not sure how we should act!
But we can't have been good parents, when our own turn came to breed,
For the generations following have been nervous, yes, indeed.
Our children are the parents now, and they worry all the time;
All that adventuring has gone and I think that's a crime.
The world's become a tricky place, and very, very scary;
Everywhere there seem to be traps for the unwary.
But we're the generation that brought this change about;
(And Doctor Spock should bow his head, there isn't any doubt!)
Children are cosseted these days and isn't that a shame.
But 'It's always the fault of the parents'

We must be to blame.



lettuce said...

you're very good at this!

yes, things have changed so much
and in many ways, have truly ended up somewhere strange and rather stupid!

Unknown said...

Sobering commentary! I agree that things were so much simpler, in some ways better, but not all ways. I love that painting.

California Girl said...

You've managed to poeticize things I wonder about alot.

And are we, the parents, to blame?

Darlene said...

I was five years old when that painting was made and life was much simpler. No worry about locking doors, predators (although they were there), drugs and other things that plague parents today.

But, to be honest, I wouldn't go back to that time. There were hardships that we don't even think about today such as polio, doind laundry in a wringer washer, etc.

Jinksy said...

The powers that be try to legislate to ban risk from life - they've turned the world into a 'let's sue somebody - blame them for our own stupidity'. No wonder the world is up the creek without a paddle! Bring back the good old days, what?

LA Nickers said...

Love the twists you provide. Such a great sense of humor!


SIMPLY SNICKERS – weekly poetry prompts

Angie Prince said...


Brilliant! I love the direction you took with this painting! Your poem describes exactly the phenomenon my husband and I discuss with one another from time to time, (yet you do so much more articulately). We describe our baby-boomer parenting as "Me-so-pretty," or "Me-so-special"! (Have we as a generation created little monsters that expect everyone to cater to them like mommy and daddy did?!)

I have read a few other poems you have written; you have quite a gift. Your humor and candor are refreshing!

Thank you so much for your contributions to us poetry-lovers,


Kat said...

The stones of yester years became smooth pebbles with the life's water running on them and shaping them.

Its sad that we are rough stones these days..!!!

So rightly said...

Children are cosseted these days and isn't that a shame.

Marja said...

Absolutely fantastic Very well written and I couln't agree more. We had such freedom when we were young
Making huts in trees and undergrounds
etc and nothing ever happened. The children today are over protected and it doesn't do tem any good.

Anonymous said...

Good rhythm and rhyme, but the main attribute of your poem is its good sense!

Those were the days (my childhood, too). Maybe too much freedom then - but it didn't do me any harm. And now the pendulum has swung too much the other way. It explains the popularity of extreme sports - my kids are mountaineers, and have tried most of the adventurous stuff.

Mary said...

Well, it seems we live in a different world today than the world of 'back then.' (As children we used to go off for the day with a lunch to explore our own 'Sherwood Forest,' and parents never worried what dangers might lurk there. I do think things are less safe today. Sad for today's children, but they know no other way. (But then again they and parents are going off to Disneyland when parents & I had weekends 'up north.' Maybe it all equals out.

Elizabeth said...

Common sense seems to have to skip a generation before reasserting itself once again. We just happen to be one of the in-betweens. One can hope,


Unknown said...

You have hit the nail on the head. :)

Whoops, be careful with that hammer

I hope you wore eye protection and had proper supervision!

Anonymous said...

How did we survive, my friends, in those days of long ago,
When the world was an enormous place but the pace of life was slow? - Love this! Well said!

Tilly Bud said...

This should be required reading for all new parents - and the Health & Safety brigade, come to think of it.

I really enjoyed it, but it made me feel rather sad. I remember boys in our street trying out their go-karts and all the neighbours (parents included) coming out to watch. I can't imagine that happening now.

Diane T said...

In our day we never called lawyers, our parents always sided with the school. But I do agree our children had someone to blame - their parents - and not all were treated fairly.

Amanda Moore said...

Bravo!This is really very true life was not filled with liabilities and laying blame we accepted our faults as our own. This is such an awesome read I loved it!

Reflections said...

Love the humorous way you were able to touch on so many 'hot topics' and the differences we face today as opposed to back when.

Great write.

Wysteria said...

I loved this. It brought me back to things my mom used to say to me. She told me that if all these things about kids were in affect when she was raising us, she would have been

We were a bunch of rowdy kids who took our knocks from each other. Good thing are one little bruise went unnoticed or my parents might have been in jail.

Really enjoyed reading your site..


kaykuala said...

It is utterly different before and now. Freedom to choose and to do was entirely up to us before unlike now. Your posting brought back the wonderful memories of the past. Great!