For the Boy.
*You can click on the graphic below to go straight to the video of me reading this piece for Listen To Your Mother: Pittsburgh if you’d prefer to just watch.
‘Twas the Night Before College
’Twas the night before College, and all through the house
everyone busy, except the cat on the couch.
Doing last loads of laundry, folding all of your clothes,
Mom looking through baby pics, blowing her nose.
She whimpered and sobbed about your first “big boy” bed
Then laughed at a photo with undies on your head.
Your sister was looking at your things to barter—
your room, for example, because it was larger.
Dad gave you warnings about sex, drugs, and parties.
He said “Wrap it up, son, and watch out for herpes.
Hangovers are brutal but you must go to class;
if you flunk out first semester, we’ll kick your ass.”
Your mother, she scoffed as she walked in the room,
saying “Treat girls with respect; sweet fruit of my womb.
And take care discussing with friends which girl is hotter;
all of those girls—they are somebody’s daughter.”
You sighed and went upstairs to finish packing your stuff
thinking I don’t need these lectures, I’ve heard them enough.
She looked at the calendar, “he’ll visit in September,”
mom muttered and then called out more things to remember:
“Your toothbrush! And toothpaste!
Some shampoo! New sheets!
Towels and your flip-flops!
You don’t want athlete’s feet!
Be friendly! Be kind—
and make sure that you smile!
Most important of all:
Call your Mom once in a while!!”
You rolled your eyes harshly, sick of hearing her nag,
but picked up the toothbrush and tossed it into your bag.
Excited but nervous to be on your own
it was hard not to think of how much you’d grown.
From your first days of school, learning to read, write, and add,
Thirteen years later, a cool high school grad.
Heading out into the world to do your own thing,
wondering what kind of life this new gig would bring.
You turned and saw your parents standing in the door.
Then your sister walked in and sat down on the floor.
The cat sauntered in and jumped up on your bed.
Your mother looked at you, and quietly she said:
“We’re proud of the man you are and all that you’ve done.
You’ve come so far and now it’s time to shine, dear son.
We know you’ll do great things and this is when it starts.
Have lots of fun, make new friends, just please don’t light your farts.
Insurance doesn’t cover stupid, drunken dares.
So if you do, those bills are yours, you ought to be aware.
We’ll always be here for you, if ever you should need us.
Just don’t burn down your dorm, okay? Please, Sweet Baby Jesus.”
Your Dad grabbed some boxes, took them down to the van.
Mom followed closely saying “fit it all, if you can.”
You grinned at your sister and said “you’ll be next,”
she smiled and whispered “You better promise to text.”
With the last bag all packed, the list checked off completely.
You petted the cat’s head, and she purred at you sweetly.
Your whole life ahead of you, so much to do,
the next day a big one, getting ready to move.
The car fully loaded, all headed to bed.
Not able to sleep, eyes wide open instead.
Lying there thinking about the next day,
you got out of bed and walked down the hallway.
At first standing quietly next to sleeping mom’s bed,
then bending down and kissing her slumbering head.
“Thanks for all that you’ve taught me about life, love, and joy.
I love you so much, love, your grown up little boy.”
If you’d like to hear me read this, you can see my performance in Listen To Your Mother: Pittsburgh HERE.