How Does a Toddler Say Sorry: Imagined Toddler Apology Notes


What would your toddler say if he or she could write an apology note for their toddler-like behavior?

Back when I was an English teacher, my favorite writing unit was poetry. Every year I delighted in changing kids’ minds who walked in the door thinking that poetry was always boring, old, or too hard to understand. I loved to teach middle school kids to write poetry that came from their souls, that played with language, and that could make others laugh, cry, or think.

Now that I’m a mom to a toddler and no longer teaching, I don’t think much about similes, stanzas, and personification.

But I do wonder what my toddler son would compose — if, of course, he could write — if he learned about my favorite poem to teach kids: “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams.

Here is the real poem:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

There’s so much going on in that poem, and that’s why it’s such a fun and accessible way to introduce poetry to kids. It’s deceptively simple, but does so much with line breaks and word choice. And kids love to learn that Williams was actually a doctor who came home very late one night, ate his wife’s plums, and left a note for her (this actual poem). Once children get that — it’s really about an everyday act that could happen in anybody’s kitchen — they take off with it, writing dozens of their own not-quite-apology poems, imitating Williams’ form and tone.

It’s an apology poem with no genuine apology. And this is exactly how I imagine my toddler — so needy, so prone to mood swings and tantrums, so self-centered, so lacking in attention span, yet so cute, so funny, and so wildly loving — would write a note to me apologizing for his daily “crimes.”

Here are a few of his (imaginary) poems:

This Is Just To Say, Mommy

I woke you up
last night
ten times
in five hours

and now
you’re probably
tired today

So sorry, Mommy
maybe you should
go to bed

Sorry About Last Night’s Dinner, Mommy

I refused to eat
the five dinners
that you made
for me

I only wanted
and goldfish
and chips

Don’t be mad
you can do better, Mommy
goldfish and pickles
are so salty
and so crunchy

This Is What Happens When I Miss Mickey, Mommy

I shrieked
in theย grocery store
from my cart prison
for 30 minutes

You got
looks of pity
and you begged me
to stop

So sorry
you got upset
I wanted to watch
Mickey Mouse


Can you write your apology poem from your child?



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30 thoughts on “How Does a Toddler Say Sorry: Imagined Toddler Apology Notes”

  1. Oh Mom I’m so sorry
    I cried crocodile tears
    and hid my face
    in my pillow

    You always seem
    to want to help
    and keep me clean
    and suc

    Your look of exasperation
    was such a shame
    I really do like
    my jacket dirty

    I love this! Thanks PricklyMom for passing it along!!!

  2. OMG I’m laughing hysterically! “So sorry you got upset!” These are perfect poems for toddlers! Perfect perfect. I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to do a poem with “sorry I pooped in my pants almost every day” but need some time between now and writing. I love these, so much!

  3. I called you
    the meanest

    But you
    know by now
    that I don’t really
    mean it.

    Forgive me,
    but I really
    didn’t want
    to put socks on.

    I love this Jessica, and that was so therapeutic, because that did actually happen this morning!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I would really like to kiss you right now. I know we haven’t met and it’s a little soon, but this…this is so so good. Thank you!

    This is just to say

    I have spilled
    the milk
    that was in
    the carton

    the swig
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Iโ€™m sorry
    it was so much fun
    to splash
    in it though.

  5. Yes, yes,yes and yes. This was FABULOUS! Though I need to think about it a bit mine would be something about throwing all my dinner on the floor and then wanting to eat it anyway. Brilliant brillant brillant!

  6. Love it! Always liked that poem too….

    This Is Just to Say
    I didn’t eat dinner
    I don’t like meatloaf
    I would’ve eaten

    if you made something good.
    I said I wasn’t hungry.
    I will be later.

    After bedtime.
    Mine and yours.

  7. Love these! As a poet myself, especially love thinking about what my toddler would say. The site is looking great and I’m eager to check over to book’s new site too!

  8. Pingback: My Writing Process - School of Smock

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