The Casual Cruelty of Positive Intentions

by Michael Mallows


For every time we raised our voices,

Insisting that you had no choices;

For every unkind thought or word

When you were asking to be heard;

For every unheard, silent scream

That underpinned low self-esteem;

Each time we called you dumb or slow,

We thought that that would help you grow.


The snide remarks that just slipped out,

To fuel and reinforce your doubt;

Each puerile joke at your expense

Suggesting lack of common sense,

Each time we mocked your futile struggle

As others joined us in a chuckle,

And said, “How thick, and oh, so slow!”

We only meant to help you grow.


Each well-aimed poisoned arrow

That kept you on the straight and narrow;

Each barbed and bitchy, witty dart

That pierced and broke your yearning heart;

Each look of meanness, every frown,

That closed you off and put you down;

Each looming shadow that we’d throw,

We really thought would help you grow.


Every somewhat callous laugh

As you stumbled on your path,

Whatever pain it stirred in you,

We hoped that something in you grew.

We called you weird or made you yelp,

Because we thought that it would help,

It gave us such an inner glow,

Each time we showed you how to grow.


And when we nag or curse and cuss,

So you’ll play less and do your chores,

Reduce the noise and stop the fuss,

Stay on track, complete the course.

Look and listen, then we’ll know,

We did our best to help you grow.


When you’re frightened and entombed

In a cold and lonely cell-like room,

And when your beating heart is calm,

You’ll see we do not mean you harm.

You’ll know we have a master plan,

Although you may not understand.

And though the hours drag too slow,

The time will pass, and you will grow


For every dusty dream that’s shattered

Because we didn’t think it mattered,

And every hope and aspiration,

Has been dismissed with irritation,

We can insist we didn’t know,

We thought it kind; you thought us foe!

We can’t submit or say we’re sorry,

Admitting doubt, concern or worry.

Or allow a new dimension

To cast a doubt on our intention.

You asked for ‘Yes’, we answered ‘No!’

In our attempt to help you grow!


And if you feel hemmed in or trapped,

Sit down, fit in and shut your trap.

If, time to time, you can’t get through,

Think, feel and function like we do!

Don’t make waves or cause commotion,

Or ever show the deep emotion,

Why? Just because we told you so,

That’s all you need to help you grow!


We know our parents loved us too,

Did all they could to help us through.

Now, it’s our duty; it’s our turn,

We know that hurting helps you learn!

And because we’re older, and we’re wise,

We’re going to cut you down to size.

We were treated in this way,

Which makes us glad (or so we say!)


It didn’t hurt us, not one bit,

Although, at times, we feel like shit,

And we’ve little self-esteem,

Still, we can blame you when we scream.

And, later, you’ll be glad we did,

When you find you treat your kids

In just the way we treated you,

You’ll know our words and deeds were true.

And you will thank us, looking back,

When you, in turn, snip, snipe and smack

And you will know the way to go,

To help your little monsters grow!