A Ballad about Boys: For My Daughter

The Muse of Immediacy convinced me to just let this one go, regardless that it seems to be of two minds.

So It Begins

And so it begins.

A Ballad about Boys: For My Daughter

Movement One: Genesis

Dear Michael and Henry

Dear Lee and Brandon and Scott

Hey, Andy and Barron, Tommy and Richard

And the fifth-grade boy whose name I’ve forgot.

Dear Chris and Joel, Donnie and Arnold

and Nathan, Josh, Ngugi, and Scott

Oh, Jud and Sean and Paul and Carl

and Jason, with the shipload of those who loved me not:

I am sorry

and, strangely,


We inflicted our needs and fears upon each other

and survived.

To dislodge the tears again,

Elsewhere, elsewhen.


Second Movement: Tragedy*

But you, Larry, you were a jerk, it’s true.

I’ll bet you were handsy on the court, too.

And Buddy. Long-legged, proud-jean’d interloper,

hips thrusting desks at girl-shaped spaces. I’ll not forget you.

Then Kevin. Where to begin. Boy, do you have problems! (Of this, I’m sure.)

You must know by now—or someone’s law has taught you (if my kicks did not):

Women and girls don’t deserve to be thrown on the floor.


Third Movement: Triumph

Dear Daughter, now you—

Wonderful you!

An agnostic’s angel:

Please know: there are a few

good men, good people, left

on this heaving blue dot yet.

Someday I’ll remind you (when you need it)

how your father and I met.

It might take awhile,

far more sobs and fissures, perhaps,

than kisses and adamantine bonds,

but when you find someone

(not the only one, but your only one),

I will hope that, for you,

the path has been worth

the stumblestones.

The falls forging you.

Firm as diamond,

steadfast as stars.

As if you’d just been standing, shining



all along.


*Names deliberately not changed to protect arseholes. If you don’t want to be written about, don’t assault people! Simple enough, right?



11 thoughts on “A Ballad about Boys: For My Daughter

  1. I don’t have the personal experience that you have, but as the father of two daughters I appreciate what you’ve done here. My girls are a bit old for this lesson, they already took their knocks, but we should lobby to make this post required reading in school!

    • Very nice of you to say so, T.N. Yep, I’m just at the beginning of the ‘journey’ with my kids, though I can identify with some of it, from the girl’s perspective, anyway. It’s going to be, as they say, interesting, worrisome, exhausting, perplexing, frightening, etc.

  2. Excellent. I have watched our two daughters navigating the shoals of childhood and adolescence into fully-fledged womanhood. They have managed to side-step the idiots and found the good ones – it can be done.

  3. Great Leigh, love the way you’re passing on your lessons to your daughter – and I loved both the warmth of sharing time with some of those boys and the kick-ass second movement 🙂

  4. School is such a minefield and I’m sure it’s getting worse, especially with the additional playground for bullies on social media. My granddaughter has been having a bit of a time of it and is going to move schools as a consequence. Her problem is the other girls, who are all jealous of her because she’s beautiful and also brilliant at athletics. I’d hate to be young again. It’s such hard work. I definitely don’t want to believe in reincarnation, as it would mean having to go through all that growing up all over again!
    Love and hugs to your daughter.

    • So sweet of you to say, Sarah. She’s a sensitive soul, and will really appreciate the atta-girl. I can’t even imagine what life is like for your granddaughter or other girls today, what with social media complicating the mix, and bullying being, it seems like, magnified with it as a weapon (rather than a harmless or education tool). Not even a “tween,” ours is already asking for a cellular phone and reading preteen/teen books, so the puberty freight train is coming at us at high speed. And yes, I had so many girls in school who teased me and the DD is already getting that, too. I don’t know how to help her through this (she’s saying she wants to transfer schools, but not in a serious way). Sigh. Anyway, I do thank you for reading my outpouring, as always!

      • The trouble with a lot of youngsters, they find it makes their life easier to conform to the herd than show individuality. They’ll even pretend to follow a bully for an easy life. I expect your daughter is very individualistic, which makes her a target for teasing. It’s so painful for mothers seeing their children teased. You want to protect them, but you also want to teach them to stand up for themselves. I don’t know about the transferring schools. My daughter did so too many times, and it impacted negatively on her education. Maybe one transfer doesn’t hurt, but at some point they have to stick it out … I guess.

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