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Child Development Analysis

Author: poem of Billy Collins Type: poem Views: 16

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As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs

and sauntered off the beaches into forests

working up some irregular verbs for their

first conversation, so three-year-old children

enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added

to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,

You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor

(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)

they yell from knee level, their little mugs

flushed with challenge.

Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out

in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying

to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts

or going after the attention of the giants

way up there with their cocktails and bad breath

talking baritone nonsense to other giants,

waiting to call them names after thanking

them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective

for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,

or receding trains missed by seconds,

though they know in their adult hearts,

even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed

for his appalling behavior,

that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,

their wives are Dopey Dopeheads

and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.


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