My Papa’s Waltz - That's not just coke in Dad's glass
Some define alcohol abuse as "the recurrent use of alcohol to the extent that repeated use results in an inability to fulfill normal role functions, or presents legal or social/interpersonal problems, or creates a hazard to self or others" (Suppes 339). While most people seem to drink in moderation, others have a hard time drinking responsibly. Sometimes alcohol abuse can lead to physical abuse, mental abuse, loss of a job, alcoholism, or the breaking down of relationships. In "My Papa's Waltz," we see the detrimental effects of alcohol on a father/son relationship. Papa does not abuse his son, however his repeated drinking creates a gap in their relationship.
In "My Papa's Waltz," we see no evidence of any physical abuse. His son, at this age, adores him. Together they "romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf" (Roethke 5-6). The young boy does not want to let go of his father; he admits, "I hung on like death" (3). Then, he explains he still clings to his father's shirt even while his father waltzes him to bed. This night excites the little boy representing a father/son moment to him. He has permission to stay up late, dancing and playing with his father. Excitement and silliness fills the air. Also, children find amusement in one parent allowing them to annoy the other; Papa and his son find entertainment while annoying the mother. Even when the child accidentally scrapes his ear on his father's belt buckle, he does not mention pain. His father never intentionally physically hurts him. Therefore, in this poem we see no evidence of abuse, only silly, childish fun.
During the alcohol-induced festivities, Papa never hurts his son. Yet, the poem emphasizes repeated abuse of alcohol. The son describes, "The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy" (Roethke 1-2). Undoubtedly, a person drinks whiskey to get drunk. Papa has not accidentally had one too many drinks with dinner....