“To the Frustrated Mother in Starbucks with Her Three-Year-Old Son” by Chanel Brenner

Chanel Brenner


Don’t worry, this will end.

One day, he will stop hitting you
when he’s mad, his hands swatting
at your face like a short-circuited robot.
One day, he will stop throwing himself
on the pale cement
and thrashing his head like a punk rocker
when you tell him, No.
Someday, he will even stop running out the door
every time he sees a pigeon
bobbing its mangy head down the sidewalk,
leaving you to spill your coffee
and chase after him down the street,
grabbing his shirt
just before he steps
into moving traffic.
You probably won’t notice that he’s stopped.
You’ll be too busy helping him trace
his upper-case letters,
playing game after game of Roshambo,
and listening to his knock-knock jokes.
You’ll be too busy answering his questions,
Mommy, Can I tell you something?
Mommy, Can I have gummy bears?
Mommy, Who was the first person on earth?
You probably won’t remember
how you thought that it would be easier
when he turned three, but it wasn’t.
Why do they call it the terrible twos?
You probably won’t remember
until you see another mother struggling
with her three-year-old son,
her jaw tense, her hand clutching
his arm too tight as he grabs
her splintering blonde hair in his
freakishly strong fist
and pulls. Then you will remember
how you wanted to escape
and how you felt like it would never end.
By then, your son will be standing still
in line beside you, ordering an Iced Caramel Macchiato
his large hands hanging at his sides.
Only now you will remember
him small in your lap,
his hand tight around your finger,
the other one pointing at a balloon,
Mommy, Boom!

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos

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Chanel Brenner: “When my older son, Riley, died at age six from a brain AVM hemorrhage, writing poetry and the support of the Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective helped me survive. I am lucky to live in L.A. among so many brilliant and openhearted poets. Last 4th of July at a parade, I saw a mom and her three-year-old son who reminded me of what it was like when Riley was three. This poem came out of wanting to reach out to her and other mothers about that turbulent age and the unwanted feelings that can surface.” (website)

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