My Son Turned Fourteen Today – A poem for Parsha Vayeilech (Aliyah 4)

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When all Israel comes to appear before your God, . . . you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears.

Deuteronomy 31:11

My son turned fourteen today and
I must teach him everything I know.

All the wisdom from all the previous pages
must leave my mouth and enter his ears.

We’ve covered a lot so far – how to lock
and unlock doors, the fact that mail is not

delivered on Sundays, what one must do
with empty dishes, and what kind of objects

it is not okay to leave in public areas.
(That is all of the objects in our house.)

But there is so much more. He still
hasn’t developed his cheese palate.

It remains a struggle to get him to wear
anything that isn’t colored red.

Teaching him to drive in a couple years
may not be that bad, but that is probably

his limit on heavy machinery.
My son turned fourteen today and

I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to
swallow a pill. He can take the trash out

like nobody’s business, so we have that.
I caught him teaching me something

the other day. He seems to know more
about what buttons to press regardless

of what device the buttons are on.
He does still use an ex sound at the

beginning of the word especially where
no ex sound should be, but that could be

a result of his environment. Like Moses,
I’m not going to be here forever.

(Though I’m sure his mother will outlive me
by at least a century as observed by the way

everything is so rapidly falling off my body.)
There’s so much to put in his ears before

we send him off to pay rent and buy and prepare
his own food. Will there be any rivers

left to cross by then? I can’t be the first person
to panic about this. My boy, my beautiful

and sweet, fourteen year old boy.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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