Rain on the Roof

I have learned my appreciation of poetry from my husband.

Being a lover of books and literature in general, I've always liked poetry well enough, but have never really delved into the genre with enthusiasm. That is, until meeting and marrying the father of my children.

He loves poetry. He loves the art, the craft, and maybe most of all, the marriage of sound and meaning. I had never really thought about the sounds of poetry before hearing him wax eloquently about the repetition of consonants or the rhythym of iambic pentameter. I just thought poetry was nice and rhyme-y. Except for the stuff that didn't rhyme, which I admit baffled me a bit.

But Rick has introduced me, and our offspring, to the pleasure of sounds -- and really, sounds do take us places, don't they? I think of the deep delight I take in the sound of rain on the roof while I am cozy beneath blankets...or the rush of the creek next to my girlhood home after a big rain...or the crunch of car wheels pulling up my mom and dad's driveway. Sounds are evocative, and poetry is their expression.

I am thankful to have learned this from Rick. And he is raising our children to hear poetry around them everyday, too.

The other day in the car, my nine-year old opened a glass bottle of carbonated pomegranate cider, and was delighted by the PFFFT-sound released by the twist of his wrist. He told me he liked to close the bottle, let the bubbles build up, and open it again so he could hear that same sound over and over.

Which led us to think about what other sounds we love. The conversation went something like this:

7-year old: "You love rain on the roof, mom!"

9-year old: "I also love that steam-y sound that trains make when they start and stop!"

7-year old: "You love hearing us laugh, mom!"

9-year old: (because we were now in a parking lot, on our way to watch Sam play soccer) "I love this sound, mom!" At which point he put down the drink he was carrying, placed a soccer ball on the ground, backed up, and then kicked the ball using the exact sweet spot on the top of his foot to produce that beautiful "thunk" of a well-placed shot.

This was one of the most fun conversations I've ever had with my kids. I was so delighted to discover that they listen, maybe not to me when I'm asking them to put their shoes away, but to the world around them, to the train going by, to the laughter that makes me smile.

I worry so much about the damage we are doing to our children when we fail, when we yell too much, when we aren't nearly patient enough. I know parents who are able to shrug off this complicated, crazy-making anxiety: I am not one of them. I worry. Because we are all they have in terms of parents, and sometimes, we fall miserably short.

But after conversations like this one, my heart soars because I think to myself that they are going to be fine, even better than fine, because they can hear things around them and describe the sounds they like the best, and because I hear some of the good things we do for them reflected back to me.

Their words and observations are rain on the roof: in the midst of a storm, they help me know that we will all be OK in this difficult and beautiful world.

* * *


Teacher Mommy said…
Beautiful post. Thank you.

I'm delving into a collection of e.e. cummings right now--his poetry is, to me, all about that exploration of sound and language. I think that's why I love his work and that of Langston Hughes so much.
Viv said…
You know what? I have a mother (who swears she never raised her voice or lost her temper) who was more patient and quieter than I am. I often wonder if my own failings are so bad, because really, when my children have their own babies, I will be very happy to know that they can look back on my imperfection and know that it is "okay to screw up" at least a little bit. It's okay to have an awful, hard, terrible day on Friday and then dust off your patience and pride to go to the zoo on Saturday and have a best day ever. Maybe imperfection is a gift we can give to our children so that they will be able to give themselves the break we just can't give ourselves?
Viv, I love this! And I sure hope the whole imperfection thing works out like you say it might -- that would be excellent.

TeacherMommy, love Langston Hughes! :)

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