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When I was a student teacher, one of the big discussions we had – when we weren’t being fed careful sips of theory from our lovely teachers – was how to acclimate children to the dark and jagged place the world could sometimes be. I find it deeply ironic that, as a writer – in writing groups and at conferences and such, that’s still the same question we spend a lot of time on. How much do we tell them? How much do we reveal?

That refrain always reminds me Maggie Smith‘s poem. How much do we keep from the children? And how much do they know anyway?


Adults struggle, though we keep this from the children.
Adults struggle, and we struggle still
and in a million different ways regret
the choice to keep it hidden. What brought us here
we keep it from the children. A fear-based beat
drums deeply through our bodies, and that’s our
normal, though we needn’t tell the children.
For every friend, a bully stalks the playground.
For every clear drop, a neighborhood drinks down lead
from the River Flint. Trust is an alien potsherd excavated
by antiquarianists, baked in the dust of injustice on a
planet so profoundly and purposely poisoned it breaks you,
though we hide this from the children. Are we not trying
to market equity? Any bullish trader,
upselling such a valueless commodity, rattles on
about futures: This one could be the big one,
right? A little investment, and it could mean security.