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Toddler Apologies -- In Verse

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Here's a note left to me from my toddler son. He's a clever little guy... He left a poem.

This Is Just To Say, Mommy

I woke you up
last night
10 times
in 5 hours

and now
you're probably
feeling
tired today

So sorry, Mommy
maybe you should
go to bed
earlier

No, he didn't actually write the poem. But back when I was an English teacher, my favorite writing unit was poetry. Every year, I delighted in changing kids' minds who walked in the door thinking that poetry was always boring, old or too hard to understand. I loved to teach middle school kids to write poetry that came from their souls, that played with language, and that could make others laugh, cry, or think.

Now that I'm a mom to a toddler and no longer teaching, I don't think much about similes, stanzas and personification.

But I do wonder what my toddler son would compose -- if, of course, he could write -- if he learned about my favorite poem to teach kids: "This Is Just To Say" by William Carlos Williams.

Here is the real poem:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

There's so much going on in that poem, and that's why it's such a fun and accessible way to introduce poetry to kids. It's deceptively simple, but does so much with line breaks and word choice. And kids love to learn that Williams was actually a doctor who came home very late one night, ate his wife's plums, and left a note for her (this actual poem). Once children get that -- it's really about an everyday act that could happen in anybody's kitchen -- they take off with it, writing dozens of their own not-quite-apology poems, imitating Williams' form and tone.

It's an apology poem with no genuine apology. And this is exactly how I imagine my toddler -- so needy, so prone to mood swings and tantrums, so self-centered, so lacking in attention span, yet so cute, so funny, and so wildly loving -- would write a note to me apologizing for his daily "crimes."

Here are a couple more of his (imaginary) poems:

Sorry About Last Night's Dinner, Mommy

I refused to eat
the five dinners
that you made
for me

I only wanted
pickles
and goldfish
and chips

Don't be mad
you can do better, Mommy
goldfish and pickles
are so salty
and so crunchy

This Is What Happens When I Miss Mickey, Mommy

I shrieked
in the grocery store
from my cart prison
for 30 minutes

You got
looks of pity
and you begged me
to stop

So sorry
you got upset
I wanted to watch
Mickey Mouse


Can you write your apology poem from your child? How would you toddler apologize for his toddler-like behavior?

Adapted from a post on School of Smock.