Monday, November 15, 2010

Timeless Design

"Read to us, Mama,” Gabe said. We’d finished our lunches. Thick pbj sandwiches had become crusty “bones” and the boys wore milk mustaches.
I pulled a book from the shelf - Favorite Poems Old and New. Each day we read from the collection before clearing dishes and racing for recess.

I thumbed through the pages until a title caught my eye. The poem had been written in the 1800s. But it may as well have been written yesterday.

“Listen to this, guys,” I said. And I read a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson:


We built a ship upon the stairs
All made of back-bedroom chairs,
And filled it full of sofa pillows
To go a-sailing on the billows.
We took a saw and several nails,
And water in the nursery pails;
And Tom said, “Let us also take
An apple and a piece of cake”;
Which was enough for Tom and me
To go a-sailing on, till tea.
We sailed along for days and days,
And had the very best of plays;
But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
So there was no one left but me.


“Mom,” Sam said. “That’s just like us. Sailing the seas.”

“Wow,” said Gabe. “We have a ship, too.”

He was right. There’s a pirate ship in the bedroom. By night it’s a bunk bed, but in the light of day it’s a mighty schooner with Hoover vacuum attachment masts and bed sheet sails. There’s booty under the bunk (marbles and plastic gold coins and pearls from a garage sale) and they usually do grab a snack in case rations run low. When they climb aboard the ship, Sam becomes Blackbeard. Gabe is Blacktooth (a fall from the bed produced a tiny gray incisor). And Zay is Oceanus Hopkins (Pilgrim babe born aboard Mayflower – wrong ship). Sometimes I’m Mama Red.

I closed the book and the boys charged upstairs.
They’d decided to trade outside recess for an afternoon sail. And as I twisted the lid on the peanut butter jar, my heart was full of praise. Thank you, God, for little boys. Thanks for the way You made them –packed with energy, craving adventure, and spilling over with imagination.I adore the timeless design.


  1. Oh I just love the imagination they have and the opportunity as a mom to see the world through their eyes. Old poems = cool too!

  2. Ms. Shawnelle I love this blog. Whenever I read new posts it makes my heart smile. You are so gifted with your writing and I LOVE reading it.

  3. Christy, it won't be long and there will be a ship in your house, too! :)Sweet!
    Ginny, thx for the kind words. It blesses me to know that you read the blog. But then - you bless me in many ways....

  4. As always, wonderful writing. My mother introduced me to poetry and often read from a book of poems of Robert Louis Stevenson when I was growing up. Your boys will remember and treasure these times.

  5. Ah, here's a poem you need to share with your boys–"Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod." My mother would recite it from memory to us as children at bedtime. Last week, I printed it out, hid it under the covers and then read it aloud to James (using a tiny light). He wasn't tucked in as a child.


  6. Thanks, Sharon. And thanks for sharing the precious memory of your mother. You're right...these times are a treasure.
    Sheryl - Thanks for sharing the poem. Can't wait to check it out!
    Love to you both!

  7. Hi Sheryl - The poem is charming. Did some homework to find the history, too. Can't wait to share it with the boys. I love the visual of your mother reciting a poem and tucking you in...thanks for sharing the tender memory! And you are so much fun - reading to James. Love it!