The Best Advice

by Angela Pattern

When we asked my American in-laws
about how to raise a child —
meaning of course their future grandson
though we had not thought to consult them
about their wishes in the matter —
they said that they had made
every mistake in the book
and surely we could do no worse.

Given the fact that their son,
my husband and the father of the fetus,
was deep in psychoanalysis at the time —
spending hours on the couch
reviewing his disastrous toilet-training
or the time his mother threw away
his Ted Williams baseball card
with which proceeds we might have put
the prospective child through college —
we knew their words had the ring of truth.

And so we sallied forth, all earnestness
and ignorance, like a pair of missionaries
going door-to-door to save the world.