21 Days/21 Poems: Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About by Judith Viorst

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My 4 year old son (no, Mummy, I’m four and a half) has been worrying about a lot of things.  Lately, he’s worried that I will forget his goggles for his swimming lessons, that I won’t take him to his favorite barber, that I will pick him up early from daycare.  All of which I’m not inclined to do.  Last night, he came to me all troubled that he will have to marry his nanny.  This is after he proposed to her!

Today is the first day of 21 Days/21 Poems and the theme is childhood. I came across this poem by Judith Viorst and I thought, yep, that’s my son when he’s a bit older.

Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About

My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board.
My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit.
Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special.
(Stumick and speshul?)
I could play tag all day and always be “it.”
Jay Spievack, who’s fourteen feet tall, could want to fight me.
My mom and my dad–like Ted’s–could want a divorce.
Miss Brearly could ask me a question about Afghanistan.
(Who’s Afghanistan?)
Somebody maybe could make me ride a horse.
My mother could maybe decide that I needed more liver.
My dad could decide that I needed less TV.
Miss Brearly could say that I have to write script and stop printing.
(I’m better at printing.)
Chris could decide to stop being friends with me.

The world could maybe come to an end on next Tuesday.
The ceiling could maybe come crashing on my head.
I maybe could run out of things for me to worry about.
And then I’d have to do my homework instead.

Source: Poets.org

The boy’s voice in the poem is strong and clear.  The poet has capture the feeling of peer pressure and the fear of embarrassing oneself  that often plagues the mind of an adolescent.  The image of “Miss Brearly” reminds us that school is very important in the lives of children. Look at how many times he worries over his parents and their authority in his life.  I love how it ends!  It always comes back to the homework, doesn’t it?

Judith Viorst is an American writer.  She is best known for her children’s literature.  She is the author of the Alexander series of children books.

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11 comments

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    • Yeah, when I first came across the poem, I though I recognized the name as well. I love the child’s voice. I think it takes considerable talent to capture a child’s voice in a poem. But then, that’s why she also writes such good children’s books.

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    • My son fusses a lot over his homework and I too wish that is all that I had to worry about. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

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