(A few of you may remember these from when I originally posted them over at ClubMom; if so, pardon today’s stale content. I wrote these with Riley in mind, but in re-visiting I realize many of them now apply to Dylan as well.)

Parenting poetry from the heart
(or maybe the spleen)

Stop! Stop! Stop!
I do not like this game.
Where you pretend to be a thrashing alligator
and you are naked. On the changing table.
And I am some lady
trying to put a diaper on an alligator.
Alligators don’t wear diapers.
Or was that
your point?

I can hardly believe
how much noise can come from
such a small creature.
I must hide you away for the good of mankind
lest the military discover
your powers.

This is not a poisonous substance. It will not cause you harm. There is no need to make that face. Or to spit it out.
It is
macaroni and cheese.
Jesus christ.

when you make that sound
an angel’s eardrums

That sure is a lot of poop.
And here I thought you didn’t eat enough dinner.
Is that

Did you know you are my heart
did you know you fill me with happiness
did you know you are my everything
did you know, my dear, oh did you
It is 5:30 in the freaking morning?

Splashing is fun!
And you are
and adorable
in the bathtub.
Oh look!
You made a fountain.

If you stop that screaming
I will pay you
Eleventy jillion dollars.
I promise
Here is a check.

It is a good thing for the parents of small children like you
that god created

Here are the things in this household that are toys:
that. this. that. and that.
the naming of toys
is going to take a long time
for there are SO VERY MANY OF THEM.
And yet you insist
on playing with
power cords.


Sometimes I want to put you in a spaceship
and push “Destination: Mars”
and wave goodbye to you my sweet
and pray for those unsuspecting Martians.
But then you smile
and laugh with me.
And I say oh okay
you can stay.
Those Martians
don’t deserve you

I love you more than my heart has room for
so my love spills everywhere
I am a Love Valdez
because of you. Baby mine.


Maybe when you are done eating
you could say “no more”
or shake your head.
I do understand what you’re saying
by letting the last mouthful fall out onto your shirt
so I guess we are communicating
I do enough freaking laundry

No offense
but if you were on Survivor
you would get voted off
They would say you had a strong personality
but they would really mean
that you were too whiny
wouldn’t eat the coconuts
sucked at the puzzles
and couldn’t swim for shit.

Your shoes are not filled with bees
I checked.
So why not
leave them on?
Oh. I guess
you’re right
I did not
for sharks.


You are tired
do you know how I can tell?
Because you are acting
like a grownup.
One with a full bottle of tequila on an empty stomach, that is.
Let’s go to bed, drunken toddler.

Yelling from the backseat is bad
it makes Mama’s head
feel like a balloon that is about to pop
Balloons are pretty to look at, aren’t they?
but believe me
Mama’s popped head-balloon is something
you would need lots of therapy
to forget you ever saw.
Someone would have to come take you home
and a nice man named Mr. Wolf would have to clean up Mama’s car.
So please,
let’s be quiet back there.

It doesn’t seem right
that I can tell whether or not you have pooped
before I even open your bedroom door.

I have read about horses
who expand their midsections when humans put saddles on their bodies
then later
they can exhale, and the saddle is too loose. And so they cannot be ridden.
Are you like a wild horse
who refuses the saddle?
Because this puffed out belly thing during diaper changes
is quite strange.

It seems unfair
that on top of all the responsibilities
the worry
the guilt
the raw, tender love
I have to clip your goddamn fingernails, too.


I am thinking about making a cracker
targeted especially for toddlers
they will be called Danger Crisps
and they will come
in the following flavors:

Choking Hazard
Rocks N’ Dirt

I think they will be a hit, based on my extensive market research
of one.

My heart must be made of elastic
some stretchy material
with room for expansion.
My heart is like maternity wear
all because of you.


in my hand
it’s a Kleenex tissue
with lotion. Lotion!
It has aloe and vitamin E and it is soft.
If I were wiping your nose
with a Brillo pad
Maybe I could better understand
your reaction.
As it is
you’re just making me
want to take my sweet-ass time.

Guess what,
little one.
I have
a newsflash
for you.
This task? At hand?
Is not my favorite
How’s about giving
me a break
So I can more properly
dig poop

Sometimes when you run
it looks like the bottom half of your body
isn’t really connected
to the top half.
I don’t know why
I love that so much.
My little malfunctioning

Hey! Let’s flap our arms!
Hey! Let’s play with trucks!
Hey! Let’s scream with joy!
Hey! Let’s run real fast!
Hey! Let’s start crying for no reason whatsoever!
And it was going so well.

I like to take your pants off
because then you go all crazy
and run around giggling
As if you could say
I’m Crazy No-Pants Baby!
Give me some candy!
Maybe you wouldn’t really say that
because you don’t know who
Adam Sandler is
But that’s what I imagine you saying
when you run around like some kind of
crazy no-pants baby.

I know the first time you did it
we laughed.
And now you don’t understand
why it’s not okay
to feed the dog string cheese.
Please, just
stop. She’s getting
and you’re
not eating your goddamn

I used to joke about
how it was a good thing babies aren’t twenty feet tall
because oh my god
think of the damage they could do.
But now I know
if ever there was a twenty-foot baby
mostly things would get
drooled on.
Now, a twenty-foot toddler
that’s just

Um, sweetie?
How can I say this
It makes Daddy
when you curiously
his nipple.

We share some opinions,
you and I.
Fruit is good
the cat’s fur is soft
Being outside is fun
and that guy Joe?
On Blue’s Clues?
Is an interloper
who should be burned
like a witch!
Burn him he’s a witch!
Burn! Burn! Burn—
I just felt like you and I
were on the same page,
on that one.

I was wondering what
your ingredient label would read
(if you had such a thing)
and I decided it would

– Summer grass
– Thorn-bushes
– Labrador puppies
– Blue skies
– Treacherous seas
– High thread count sheets
– Electric eels
– Warm chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven
– Poop
– Sunshine

Exact content amounts would
vary, of course
depending on

Today you ran
full tilt
directly into my knees
and hugged me.
And I was all,
be careful!
But I didn’t really want you to be careful
if that meant
not doing it again.

Kissing you is sort of
like kissing
banana slug.
Well I’m sorry!
But it is.
Come here,
my beloved

Whenever I hold your tiny, eager hands
I think
oh please
Let me be so lucky
to hold your hands throughout the years
Let me hold your reluctant, older hands
and remember the days
when they were tiny.


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15 years ago

Wow those are incredible! And I can identify with almost each and every one!

Thank you!

15 years ago

Just found you via Google Reader – and damn I’m glad they did! I’ve read through SO many back posts and then I found this one…PURE AWESOME.

And warn me next time – that last one…I’m now fighting tears at work. I do so understand. :)

15 years ago

Just re-read these after a while away. Made me cry again.

You’re pretty much brilliant.

15 years ago

still quite fantastic indeed!

14 years ago

If the book doesn’t work out, there’s always the nursery plaque. Ever since I read these, I can’t get “alligators don’t wear diapers” out of my mind at the changing table. :) Makes the whole affair a bit more amusing.

12 years ago

I do the Adam sandler thing with my toddler all the time. hey you’re crazy sock hands! Gimme some candy!

12 years ago

Thank you for linking to these on Twitter. I have an 18 month old and I appreciate them on a whole new level now.

12 years ago

These were amazing! I love your poetry, and although I don’t have any children this just makes me excited to graduate and have one of my own. :]

11 years ago

You know when you can’t find something (like some wonderful poetry that captures the love and crazy of early parenting just. so.) and so you Google but Google fails you and you are starting to get a little obsessive about it and maybe a little panicky but then you find that one of your favorite bloggers was the one who wrote it and it was here all along and so you heave a big sigh of gratefulness and all-out-of-proportion relief and read the poems again and cry and laugh? Me too!