lessons learned: terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

As an educator, my most valued teaching tools were children’s books.  There is something about a picture and a few simple words that open our world to simple lessons on life better than any self-help book.

Being an early childhood mental health specialist as well, I ended up with quite a library of picture books about emotions.  Some evoke laughter with their silly pictures, and some raise thought provoking questions with their simple text.  I even refer to their words of wisdom as I consult with teachers, preach to congregations, or just engage in my own personal therapy.

And yesterday, it was all about the therapy!

If you have never read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day then I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy.  While the pictures are simple sketches, the illustrations of Alexander’s face capture that grumpy feeling we all have when life just doesn’t go our way.  The author’s words ring true as she repeats them through the eyes of a young boy, “I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  Who among us hasn’t felt that way?!

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter even recognized that I had a bit of Alexander going on, and she encouraged me to take the dogs on a walk. . .alone.   Thankfully, she’s wise enough now to appreciate the finer details of a situation, or perhaps, she just didn’t want to hear Mom’s mumbling and grumbling.  Either way, it was a bit of grace, and I accepted her “invitation” to leave.

As the dogs and I jogged around the edge of the field, I fussed at and vented to my Maker.  What is it about terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days that cause us to question the journey?  The “uncomfortableness?”  The frustration?  Or maybe we are just too tired to do anything else but cry out, “I’m done!”

When I returned home, I looked at what the evening held in store–a sink full of dirty dishes, reviewing for a science test, and doing some laundry.  Argh!

Then I realized, some days are just like that–terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  But this morning, that one is done, and a new one has begun.   And given that I didn’t trip over a dog leash on our early morning walk and made it to work without spilling my green tea, I’d say that I’ve started with a decent, acceptable, pretty good, okay day.  And for now, that’s enough.

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