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Memorandum for an Infant Son

Published: May 9, 2009

Published in the May 7, 1938 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

You may not find it easy, son, on Mother’s-Days-to-be,
To think of anything for which you should be thanking me.
And so I list some reasons in a handy memorandum
Before you even reach an age of wit to understand ’em,
And you may take them out each year as Mother’s Day recurs,
And say, “At least, she did this much, and therefore praise be hers.”

I may have failed on many counts of duties mothers do,
Yet I have never tried to make a prodigy of you;
You have not posed for Hollywood, nor sung for Major Bowes,
Nor gone Terpsichorean on a toddler’s tapping toes;
You can’t speak Esperanto, nor beat champions at chess—
And yet I hope your intellect will flourish none the less.

I do not tremble for your health nor analyze your brain
(I hope you’re nearly normal and approximately sane),
I do not try experiments with fads in education
Nor study cults of Attitude and Complex and Fixation;
I leave you pleasantly along, entirely reconciled
To thinking you are just a boy, and not a Problem Child.

You never have been entered in a beauty contest yet;
I do not ape your baby talk with honeyed epithet;
I do not make you kiss your aunts nor sit on strangers’ laps;
I’ve put you into rompers and your bonnets now are caps;
I do not make you play with girls, nor buy you dolls for toys,
But give you stern equipment such as appertains to boys.

If I should keep a baby book of “cunning things” you say,
I shall not leave it where your friends may find it some say day;
And when you come to college years, I shall not show your dates
Your baby shoes electroplated into paperweights;
And no artistic pleasure in your infant pulchritude
Can make me have you photographed in curls, or in the nude.

Son—keep this list for Mother’s Days, and may you never dread one,
But pin a flower on your coat, a large one—and a red one!
—Dorothy Brown Thompson

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