So there’s this children’s book by Judith Viorst.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I haven’t thought about it in years, but today I’m ready to match Alexander grievance for grievance.
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………..I think I’ll move to Australia.
I woke up at about 10:30 this morning, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Today, I planned for Calvin to come over and go swimming with me and the little bro. In theory, we’d have lunch at the pool, he’d hang out into the evening. Calvin was planning to teach little bro how to play Magic, which he describes as “a game for literalists”. It was supposed to be a really good day, so I was more than a little pissed when it turned out to be the exact opposite. I got called into work at the last minute, and in the middle of the day. “This isn’t FAIR!” I wailed. My mom shrugged in a “life isn’t fair,” sort of way.
I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. At school Mrs. Dickens liked Paul’s picture of the sailboat better than my picture of the invisible castle. At singing time she said I sang too loud. At counting time she said I left out 16. Who needs 16?
I realized that we were out of hot glue sticks at work, and that hot glue sticks were vital to the last-minute absolutely could not wait until after vacation work I was doing (note the sarcasm dripping from my fingers). I called the Walgreen’s across the street from work. Apparently Walgreen’s doesn’t sell hot glue sticks. So I tried Target, who assured me that they had exactly what I was looking for in the Home Improvement section. Figuring we’d kill two birds with one stone, mom and I headed to Target (coincidentally in the opposite direction from work) planning to get some picture frames as well. Finding neither glue sticks nor helpful employees in the Home Improvement section, I stormed defeated into the Garden section, where I’d earlier seen a cluster of loitering, red-vested kids working summer jobs. I made eye contact with one, and, as evidence of both my rapidly advancing age and continuing monogamous relationship, instead of thinking, “Ooh, cute boy,” I thought,”Gee, what a nice young man.” The Nice Young Man directed me to the arts and crafts aisle. Unfortunately, the glue sticks there were miniature. I was forced to buy two packages and a miniature glue gun.
I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. There were two cupcakes in Phillip Parker’s lunch bag and Albert got a Hershey Bar with Almonds, and Paul’s mother gave him a piece of jelly roll that had little coconut sprinkles on the top. Guess whose mother forgot to put in dessert?
There were lots of rednecks and their screaming children in Target.
It was a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. That’s what it was because after school my mom took us all to the dentist, and Dr. Fields found a cavity just in me. “Come back next week and I’ll fix it,” said Dr. Fields. “Next week,” I said, “I’m going to Australia.”
At work, I had to empty all the trashcans, even though I didn’t know where they all were. And my boss asked me to sweep the hallway. And then when I was finished she wanted to know if I’d swept the backroom. And when I was finished with that my boss wanted to know if I’d swept the office. And so it went with all the rooms in the building. You’d think at some point I would have wised up and just swept everything preemptively. You would be wrong.
On the way downstairs the elevator door closed on my foot. And while we were waiting for my mom to go get the car, Anthony made me fall where it was muddy. And then when I started crying because of the mud, Nick said I was a cry-baby. And while I was punching Nick for saying cry-baby, my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting.
Then, right before I had to leave, my boss thought of three time-consuming things that just had to be done. So I stayed an extra 45 minutes.
I am having a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. I told everybody. No one even answered.
“It wasn’t a completely terrible day, was it?” My mom asked.
“Yeah, it kind of was,” I said.
“Hey, are you ever going to respond to that Scrappitydodah lady about unschooling? Because I really think she was talking about you, and you said you’d tell that story about being aware of your unschooling when you were about seven and the next-door-neighbors tried to imitate your success but with poor results,” she reminds me for the fourth time.
“Yeah, later. I’ll get to it, I will,” I said.
“You’d rather complain?”
“Yep, pretty much.”
It was a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. There were lima beans for dinner, and I HATE limas. There was kissing on TV, and I HATE kissing. My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain, and I had to wear my railroad-train pajamas. I hate my railroad-train pajamas. When I went to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse night-light burned out and I bit my tongue. The cat wants to sleep with Anthony, not with me.
The worst part is the karmic injustice of it all. Today was supposed to be a good day. I was all psyched up for it, I woke up anticipating it, I could almost taste it. And then it disappeared with no warning. I’ve heard it said that no matter what happens, you can make up your mind to be happy. But today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And, as it turns out:
My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.