Handbooks for children


Lately I ponder how it would be

If each child had come with a handbook

It could be delivered after their birth

I would surely take more than a quick look


It would tell me their quirks

So that I’d be better prepared

Then I would be ready

More of my brown hairs would be spared


Ira’s book would warn of the trials of being 17

Able to work, drive and play football

Attached to his phone more than I like

Likes to remind me that he’s quite tall


When he is frustrated, he will clam right up

And I should be calm and not lose my cool

Be patient and kind, being a teenager is tough

Bite my tongue before I say something cruel


It would have a chapter on deer and tractors

And it would warn me early on of his passions

It would tell me to take great comfort

For this boy is ignorant of most popular fashions


The book about my dear 14-year-old Dane

Would be colorful and thick

Notes about his need to have something in his hands

From yarn to work with, or magnets that form and stick


A page or two about his temper that will flare

When sleep has run short and he’s overtired

Sometimes this mom forgets to show compassion

Sometimes this mom thinks she should be fired


It would have a chapter listed with bullet points

He will need to know the plans for the day

It is imperative to know for certain what’s scheduled

From that list we must try not to stray


Henry, an operator of equipment already at 10

His book would read of his love for tools, wheels and gears

Tell me to be expecting much worry

He will be driving big things in his young years

It will note that he will be an angry door-slammer

He harbors a stubborn streak and can be silent for hours

But, on the flip side, his hugs are the best, given freely

These are the things that hold magical mom-calming powers


There will be pages on his uncanny drawing ability

Sketching entire scenes from memory, just like he saw

He is third in the lineup and will want to be Ira

His looks favor Uncle Tony, personality favors his Pa


The handbook on Cora will be flowery and pink

Written in large letters it will say:

Be prepared, she is you, she is wild 

And she will wear five dresses in one day 


She will possess the need to care for all creatures

She will observe and ask questions, seeking to know

This girl will surprise you with her ideas

It will be amazing watching her mind grow


She will be a bright spot, a whirlwind

When she gets frustrated, oh, beware

In a matter of mere seconds

She will flip her lid without care


I haven’t found these books yet in my reading stash

I suppose I’ll continue to muddle my way through

Winning, failing, trying to do better each day

Telling myself to do the best I can do


Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and farm 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her children, Ira, Dane, Henry and Cora, help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos, and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.



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