Rainbow Hills

 

Arlyn

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PARENT COLUMNS

ON TURNING 21

It’s hard to believe that I started writing this column when my daughter was in middle school. She was 12 years old when an emergency appendicitis turned out to really be Crohn’s disease.

Now my “baby” is 21 (and this is Colum 21). And I am on my way to her collage graduation. Like any mom, I am excited and proud as she takes this leap into adulthood.

But let’s face it, she is always going to be my little girl. The other day I was nagging away and I could picture her on the other end of the phone, holding the receiver at arms length as she sang out, “I’m not listening!” I let it go. I even had to laugh at myself but I’m sure that when I’m 90, I’ll be doing the same thing.

Also, even though she now plugs her ears and says she is not listening, lets face it, she’s listened plenty for the past 21 years. And as far as I can tell, she has taken it all in.

She was offered a job and told them she could not take it unless they provide health insurance. And they have. (Yeah, Baby.)

Anyway, for her 21st birthday, she is not getting a car or any big gift. She’s getting this poem from her mom. Despite all my years of nagging caution, I can’t help but to urge her to leap into life. So for all us parents who are watching our kids leave the nest and for all the young people ready to fly, here is the poem.

ON TURNING 21

(This Poem Is All You Get)

You stand on the edge
questions holding you

There have been times
I held you
and from my fear
from my mislearning
I cautioned you
I’m sorry

You may trip
scrape your knees
or worse
Oh, you will bleed
your heart torn to shreds
embarrassment will flush your face
mistakes in every direction
as you dance the steps
a perfect idiot
with no tune to guide you

Perhaps you’ve watched as I’ve
taken the stairs two at a time
straight into a tree crusher
my limbs spit out in little bits
bark and leaves
mere mulch

In the end
Beloved
throw out everything
I’ve ever told you
every stone, every gem
every worldly possession
even your down comforter
especially your down comforter
Wrap yourself instead
in these words
Dare, my Darling, Dare
Give it all


 

Copyright 1996 - 2002 Arlyn Serber