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When the phone rings at 3am

by joanie 

Posted: 23 May 2006
Word Count: 36
Summary: This parent/child thing gets harder! I am so useless at titles - any ideas?

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Version I
can I try
to be a mother

I am still
a child in my heart?

Version II

can I be a mother

I am still
a child in my heart?

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Comments by other Members

Plagious at 09:22 on 24 May 2006  Report this post
Hi Joanie - love the simplicity yet expresses such a great dichotomy. Assume "mother" for character is used as both a noun (she already is one, rather than wants to be one) and a verb. This is her paradox, how to mother?

I think the first stanza could re-worded but still thinking. Have made some changes to the second, but also wondered if removing bracketed words would cut to the essence?

can I [try
to] be a mother

in my heart
I am [still] a child?

As for title? "The Child in Me"? or just "Child Inside"? Good stuff! Plagious

Shika at 12:22 on 24 May 2006  Report this post
Hi there

Plagious inspired me to think it it like this:

can I be
a mother
when my heart
is still a child's?

Great sentiment though. Like the fact that you chose to write it in so few words. Much respect. I think you are lucky if you still feel this way.S

joanie at 22:29 on 24 May 2006  Report this post
Plagious and Shika! Thank you. I think I could pare this a bit as you suggest. It seems ridiculous to be pruning 17 words but I love it!

Thanks again - I'll post a revised version.


joanie at 22:35 on 24 May 2006  Report this post
I think I still prefer Version I, because of the form; I can't help counting syllables and things!!


James Graham at 16:22 on 25 May 2006  Report this post
Just go back to Version 1, Joanie - you can't improve on it! Your title could be something less directly related to the poem, something that makes the reader put two and two together. These are just examples and may not be right for the poem, but might just lead you to a good title. You could use a title to suggest what brought on the feeling of self-doubt that the poem expresses, e.g. something that has happened to the child, the kind of thing that makes a parent feel a bit helpless. 'Fall', 'Accident', 'Nightmare' etc. These relate more to young children, but if appropriate I suppose the title might suggest an adolescent catastrophe. Another idea I had was 'Question for my --th Birthday', '--th Birthday Question'. As I say, maybe none of these will do, but they might suggest something that you like better.


joanie at 17:59 on 25 May 2006  Report this post
Thank you James! Good advice indeed. I shall search my mind to see what prompted this because something certainly did!


NinaLara at 06:31 on 26 May 2006  Report this post
I can understand why Plagious and Shika wanted to write different versions - it is a perfect sentiment which can have many different forms ... all of which perhaps express a different tone of the same feeling. I think mine would be:

How can I
be a Mother
at 4.00am?

Prodded from sleep,
I am still a
screaming baby.

I like James' idea. This week, I would call your poem 'After my tantrum on burning the eggs' ...

Love the sleep deprived.

joanie at 07:17 on 26 May 2006  Report this post
Thanks Nina! I think you're right; everybody has a different idea. I'm working on the title - yours made me smile and made me think that I'm glad they're grown up, but as you can imagine, it never goes away! I like your version too!


James Graham at 20:33 on 27 May 2006  Report this post
Nina's right. There could be an almost unlimited choice of titles - anything that brought on the feeling in the poem. If you can't recall what really prompted it, make something up!


joanie at 21:35 on 28 May 2006  Report this post
Change of title, but, as James says, the possibilities are endless!


James Graham at 10:30 on 29 May 2006  Report this post
Dorothy Parker, in old age, used to say every time the phone rang, 'What fresh hell is this?' This is a good title - I suppose there could be others equally good, but this certainly hooks the poem on to reality, on to something that would make most parents' blood run cold! Now the poem couldn't be taken as 'just a thought', written in the abstract. It becomes attached to a particular moment.


joanie at 10:49 on 29 May 2006  Report this post
James, thank you for the confirmation and the information!


Mr B. at 19:37 on 29 May 2006  Report this post

I prefered the first version, not so much for the rhythm, but for the semantic differences between being something and trying to be something.

Nice one!


joanie at 21:22 on 29 May 2006  Report this post
Thanks, Mr. B. I appreciate it!


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