Can I… A poem by Fran Bardsley

It comes at least a thousand times a day,
An hour even.
Sometimes plaintive, sometimes insistent
Always delivered with just the right tone
To set a parents’ teeth
On edge.

The demands always come at the worst times
Mid conference call
During my first moment of uninterrupted work all day,
All week maybe.

We rely on rules to keep us sane
But we didn’t make the new rules,
Never imagined imposing such stringent measures on our children
As they teem with life and verve
Bursting against the bounds put in place to keep us all safe.
How can I deny them small pleasures
When already so much has been taken from them?

So today, I say yes.
You can have another biscuit
Switch the television on
Drown yourself in another mindless round of your favourite app
Paint your nails every colour of the rainbow
Have a water fight
Interrupt my work for a cuddle
Swathe yourself in blankets to watch Super Hero Girls
One more time.

Because when the answer to
“Can I go out?” or
“Can I see my friends?”
Is no
How can the answer to something less fundamental
Less devastating
Be anything but


A journalist for 10 years, Fran now works in marketing and PR in the education sector and writes as much as she can. Older writings can be found here.

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