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Childhood Words

by Zettel 

Posted: 12 December 2017
Word Count: 113
Summary: A slight piece of Grandfatherly musing

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Words of a Child
Your 'mimmits' will soon become
60 precise seconds long
And something very precious
will be forever gone
Since birth your ‘cups of tea’
have quieted urgent tears
But it is nearly time to let
words allay your fears
You christened me as 'Ga Ga'
A cherished soubriquet for me
'Gandad' now, Grandad soon you’ll say
but in my heart 'Ga Ga' I will ever be
Use your words Mummy says and
ideas tumble from your mind
to tell us what you think and feel
as your unique voice you find
Life is a journey bold and brave
of endless possibility
To discover not decide
the person you can be

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 21:25 on 15 December 2017  Report this post
This is a delightful poem. It must of course be about your granddaughter, but it could be about the joy that any grandfather feels in his little grandchild. My grandchildren are now grown up, but I can still relate to it, especially to the huge pleasure we take in hearing and remembering those early childhood words. It does seem a loss when they stop using them and begin to use the ‘correct’ words.
Your first stanza expresses this very succinctly. Something is indeed lost when ‘mimmits’ become universal 60-second minutes – the transient time in a child’s life when the exact length of a minute doesn’t matter. I’m a little unsure, however, about ‘cups of tea’ – is it something said to her to soothe her when she’s upset? This may be something that’s perfectly clear to you and your family but not so recognisable to outsiders. Perhaps a little explanation will make it clear.
The third stanza expresses how special it seems to us when they invent those names for us, and the pleasure and affection the child clearly feels when calling us something like ‘Ga Ga’. These are things we remember always. Then the last two stanzas are insightful: they accept the inevitable and  take satisfaction from it. It’s also a joy to witness the child learning to ‘tell us what you think and feel’ and finding her ‘unique voice’. ‘To discover not decide/ the person you can be’ is quite profound: you might say that we do decide to some extent the person we become, but discovery is so much more vital.
It will be interesting to know what precisely ‘cups of tea’ refers to, but otherwise this is surely one of your best pieces. Not at all 'slight'. Thank you for posting it.


Zettel at 02:15 on 16 December 2017  Report this post
Thanks James. Glad it struck a chord.

'Cups of Tea' was my daughter's expression for breastfeeding'. It proved a useful way of giving Poppy words that she could connect with the process even among strangers who might not know quite what was being offered. The expression stuck and has I think a certain charm in itself.

Thanks again for your encouragment.



Zettel at 02:31 on 16 December 2017  Report this post

On the 'discover' 'decide' issue:  you are of course right that we do have to make decisions throughout our lives on this. I used the distinction with my own two children  when they occasionally said in a davance they couldn't do something and I used to say 'try,' if you find you can't do something (and don't give up too easily) that's ok: there will be many things in life that you won't be able to do; but we often find with enough effort and determination we can surprise ourselves with what we achieve that we never thought we would. I think this is the essence of aspiration and teacher's parents and carers don't always promote it enough as a way of looking at the world.Very important of course that we deal properly and offer the right kind of guidance when in fact the child does 'discover' something they can't do.

For me: to try and not succceed is not to fail. Only not trying is to fail.  (But of course you have be very careful not to demand the impossible frm your kids - that does so much harm. All they learn then is that they can never satisfy you).

There was a corollary,if you can - lead: if you can't lead, then be a good follower.



James Graham at 20:47 on 18 December 2017  Report this post
…to try and not succeed is not to fail. Only not trying is to fail.
I believe this would have met with the approval of Cato the Younger, whose Stoicism included the idea that failure can be accepted with equanimity if one has done everything in one’s own power to succeed. He failed to save the Republic – but he tried.

Zettel at 01:07 on 19 December 2017  Report this post
That's nice to know.  Stoicism is somethines construed as a somehat 'passive' idea of acceptance. So I much prefer this.
Thanks for the info.



Cliff Hanger at 21:07 on 04 January 2018  Report this post
How lovely. Your granddaughter really is a special muse for you. I think this is your best. Knowing the themes that occupy you (language and philosophy), I can still see them here but in a completely real and acccessible way.


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