Father Forgets: A Tribute to Relationships

**Originally published on REV 21 Media 


March 2nd, 2018

“Father Forgets, by W. Livingston, is a reflection on the day his son stirred his heart. A beautiful reminder of the innocence of youth and the unawareness of adulthood.”

The relationship dynamic between parents and their children is a unduplicatable. Often, one in which love is boundless and immeasurable.

From the moment a child is born, both the child and the parents are tumbled into a connection that cannot be helped.


However, like for all other infinite love relationships, the pain and anger we often feel for those we love the most multiplies to levels unimaginable.

Perhaps it’s because we hold our closest ones to a completely different standard. While this is often done subconsciously, it is often the root behind our biggest issues. In the relationship between parents and children it creates distance.

Father Forgets, by W. Livingston, is a reflection on the day his son stirred his heart. A beautiful reminder of the innocence of youth and the unawareness of adulthood.

It is a touching reminder of the significance of words and actions as well as the boundless value of a look, a touch, a bond and a friendship.

Father Forgets is one of the classic poems our generation hasn’t heard much of but portrays a lesson we all should be aware of. Whether we are parents, children, siblings, caregivers, teachers, etc. It is a beautiful tribute to relationships and the effect of criticism on it.

It teaches us that encouraging others–in all our interactions, not just those who we are closest to–instead of criticizing them is incredibly important to becoming a happier, more successful person in life.

Read the text below and take a few minutes to reflect on Livingston’s words, there may be some moment in your life, you can fix by simply working on this.

Listen, son; I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast, I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came Up the road, I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before you boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to your for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing buy a boy – a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

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