CATS IN THE CRADLE (Harry Chapin)

With thanks to my youngest sister, I offer this thoughtful poem, put to music by Harry Chapin many, many years ago. This poem expresses well an age old problem, visible in all cultures – wherever human beings live, but it seems to have expanded quite a bit in our world where poverty is so real, where expectations are so high and the cost of acquiring all of the THINGS that define success create an illusion – that feeds the ego cost so much in time and energy.

“My child arrived the other day

He came into the world in the usual way

But there were some planes to catch, and bills to pay

He learned to walk while I was away

And he was talking ‘fore I knew it and as he grew

He’ say, “I’m gonna be like you, dad

You know I’m gonna be like you

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

When you coming home dad?

I don’t know when

But we’ll get together soon

You know we’ll have a good time then.

My son turned ten just the other day

He said, thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play

Can you teach me to throw, I said not today

I got a lot to do, he said, that’s okay

And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed

Said, I’m goon be like him

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

When you coming home, dad?

I don’t know when 

But we’ll have a good time then.

Well, he came home from college the other day

So much like a man I just had to say

Son, I’m proud of you

Can you sit for a while?

He shook his head, and he said with a smile

What Ii’d really like dad, is to borrow the car keys

See you later

Can I have them please?

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

When you coming home son?

I don’t know when

But we’ll get together then

You know we’ll have a good time then. 

Ii’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away

I called him up just the other day

I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind

He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time

You see, my new job’s a hassle and the kid’s got the flu

But it’s sure nice talking to you

And as I hung up the phone, it accused to me

He’d grown up just like me

By boy was just like me.

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

When you coming home son?

I don’t know when

But we’ll get together then

You know we’ll have a good time then. 

We all know that children watch – they observe – they listen a little – and they learn. We forget that the parents are the first and most important teachers – about faith – about life. Parents are called to pay attention to what they are teaching – and why are they teaching that? Teachers in the schools can teach about things – but children watch the parents and learn about life and all that life brings; the joys and the sorrows; the difficulties and the struggles. Parents – like classroom teachers need to pay attention – don’t let the books get in the way of a good education. Life is much too important – and learn about life from the experience of others – and our own experiences as we struggle to learn how to love. We can learn all of the language skills, the history lessons, the math and science we want, but when we don’t learn the language of love that binds us together; that is when we fail in the caldron of life. We may become hugely successful and gain much power over others; but – we may ultimately lose out in the big picture. We and others become just things – to be used up and discarded. Lent is a good time to take stock and ask ourselves,. what are we missing? What are my priorities? What am I teaching? What am I learning?

Thanks Clink:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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