Poetry Saturday—Growing Down

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Mix a grunt and a grumble, a sneer and a frown,
And what do you have? Why old Mr. Brown,
The crabbiest man in our whole darn town.
We all called him Grow-Up Brown:
For years each girl and boy and pup
Heard “Grow up, grow up, oh grow up.”
He’d say, “Why don’t you be polite?
Why must you shout and fuss and fight?
Why can’t you keep dirt off your clothes?
Why can’t you remember to wipe your nose?
Why must you always make such noise?
Why don’t you go pick up your toys?
Why do you hate to wash your hands?
Why are your shoes all filled with sand?
Why must you shout when I’m lying down?
Why don’t you grow up?” grumped Grow-Up Brown.

One day we said to Grow-Up Brown,
“Hey, why don’t you try growing down?
Why don’t you crawl on your knees?
Why don’t you try climbing trees?
Why don’t you bang on a tin-can drum?
Why don’t you chew some bubble gum?
Why don’t you play kick-the-can?
Why don’t you not wash your hands?
Why don’t you join the baseball team?
Why don’t you jump and yell and scream?
Why don’t you try skipping stones?
Why don’t you eat ice cream cones?
Why don’t you cry when you feel sad?
Why don’t you cuddle with your dad?
Why don’t you have weenie roasts?
Why don’t you believe in ghosts?
Why don’t you have pillow fights?
Why don’t you sleep with your teddy at night?
Why don’t you swing from monkey bars?
Why don’t you wish on falling stars?
Why don’t you run in three-legged races?
Why don’t you make weirdie faces?
Why don’t you smile, Grow-Up Brown?
Why don’t you try growing down?”
Then Grow-Up Brown, he scrunched and frowned
And scratched his head and walked around,
And finally he said with a helpless sound,
“Maybe I will try growing down.”

So Grow-Up Brown began to sing
And started doing silly things:
He started making weirdie faces
And came in first in the three-legged races.
All day he swung from monkey bars,
All night he’d lie and count the stars.
He tooted horns, he banged on drums,
He spent twenty bucks on bubble gum,
He went to all the weenie roasts,
And once he thought he saw a ghost.
He got to be great at pillow fights
And went to sleep with his teddy at night.
He flew a kite, he kick a can,
He rubbed some dirt upon his hands.
He drew some pictures, threw some stones,
He ate forty-seven ice cream cones.
He got some sand between his toes,
Got a loose tooth and a bloody nose.
He got a dog, they rolled in the mud.
He imitated Elmer Fudd.
He climbed a roof (though no one asked),
He broke his wrist—he wore a cast.
He rolled down hills, he climbed up trees,
He scuffed his elbows, skinned his knees,
He tried to join the baseball team;
When they said no, he spit and screamed.
He cried when he was feeling sad
And went and cuddled with his dad.
He wore a hat that didn’t fit,
He learned just how far he could spit,
He learned to wrestle and get tickled,
Sucked his thumb, he belched and giggled.
He got his trousers torn and stained,
He ran out barefoot in the rain,
Shouting to all the folks in town,
“It’s much more fun, this growin’ down.” —Shel Silverstein

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