Thursday, March 20, 2014
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Rating: 5 stars
I read this classic for the very first time this morning. For the first time! Published in 1972--before I was born!--it has been a classic my whole life. Yet...I don't remember reading it until this morning.
(Mom, if I'm remembering wrong, please feel free to correct me...yet again.)
I checked it out from our library once before, when Lorelei was about three. We read the first few pages, but I found some excuse to stop reading it, tuck it back in the library bag, and return it without finishing it. Why such strange behavior, you ask? Because Lorelei had--and still does have--the sunniest, warmest personality you'll ever meet. She didn't know what a bad day was, and I worried that if I introduced the concept of a bad day, she'd start having one. Or two. Or more!
I'm not saying this was a logical decision, but... Ben was about 18 months at the time, and all those people I saw at the grocery store were right--I had my hands full. I desperately NEEDED Lorelei to continue having all the good days she could so I could remain sane and happy myself! I am so very grateful for her happy demeanor then and now. But I got the book again--brave me, right?--because I knew she needed--I know she needs--permission to have a bad day every now and then.
I think it's easy for us parents with always-happy children to allow them to have a grumpy morning, a give minute whine-fest, or a completely bad day, like our pal Alexander. I am guilty of snuffing out Lorelei's poopy moods, for sure. But about a year ago, when she was in kindergarten and we were both going through growing pains of sorts, I started to realize that I've got to let Lorelei have and show a full range of feelings and moods. Bottling stuff up, which I certainly did as a kid and do as an adult, is not the way to go. She's seen enough of that in me.
How to change my own behavior, and hers, too? Well, I full on admit when I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day! Usually, though, I have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad MOMENTS more than full DAYS.
When she has the same and admits in tears that nothing went right today as I tuck her in, I commiserate with her. I don't try and go back and point out the good in everything right then (like I want to). I just listen and invite her to pour out all that she experienced, and I'll hold on to that disappointment and frustration and annoyance and anger so that her sweet 6 year old body can fall asleep with only the good stuff.
And so, I checked this out again and we read it. And this morning Ben and Lorelei and I laughed at Alexander and how everything seemed like such a BIG DEAL. Ben's dimples deepened as Alexander kept on threatening to go to Australia. Why Australia?! he asked, laughing. So random! So funny!
And isn't this the whole point of life, of feelings, of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days? Acknowledging what you're feeling, and then having the humility and the courage and the love of family and friends to laugh at how silly it all seems after it's over.
P.S. Did you know this book will soon be a movie? To be released this year. Glad I read the book first, as the book is always better!