Poem: Scold

You did a thing I didn’t like.
I ask you why and tell you how
I’m angry, sad. You nod. Your face
gets pink. Tears well, and roll, and drop.
You ask to change the subject but I keep
talking about it, hoping that
if I repeat myself enough,
next time you’ll make a different choice.
You’re miserable and hot with shame.
I want to stop but, equally,
I want you to think twice — thrice! —
next time, and this is all I know
to do. The shame and tears ring loud
and I don’t know if I’m doing
the right thing here. When do I know —
like, really know — I’m parenting
with wisdom, skill, and grace? Your joy
is not my always-goal. I want
to raise you right. At the same time,
I’m sad when you are sad. I want
to make it better, wipe your tears,
and buy us all an ice cream cone.
The Talk is over. When I ask
if you want a hug, you decline.
In separate corners now, we go
about our days, corrected and
correct. Ten minutes later we
are back to normal: laughing, light.

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