Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Monday, February 10, 2014

9-29-13 RMB If You Can Keep Your Head When…

9-29-13 RMB If You Can Keep Your Head When…

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

On this California Sunday I am called to pick up the youngest. His demanding nature has exhausted the patience of both moms. So he sits at my kitchen table writing the If poem by Rudyard Kipling.

It starts:
If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;

Wikipedia contains the whole poem. I encourage every parent to share it with their children. I read it as a child and it had a profound effect on me. I had hoped that it would thusly affect “my” boys, my three nephews. Reading it once didn’t do the trick. Having to write it out during “learning time” or “quiet time”, our version of discipline, helped, but yet, the lessons still had not sunk in.

They have written it multiple times over the years, having to memorize portions of it, the eldest might have the whole thing committed to memory by now, Lord knows he has had to write it enough, and still the lessons somehow don’t seem to stick. Limits are tested, tantrums are thrown, infractions occur.

What I find interesting though, is that in a quiet moment, full of good behavior and cooperation, every once in a blue moon, one of the three will whisper almost under his breath “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs”. Our eyes meet and a shy smile appears on a young, proud, brave face.  

Ah yes, thank you Mr. Kipling.


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