I was subbing for a second grade class a few weeks ago and had just finished reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It’s a terrific book that was turned into a fun movie recently. As you might expect by the title, it’s about a little boy whose day started out bad and continued to get worse.
As is customary. the class was gathered on the carpet as I was reading. When I finished the book I asked them if anyone ever had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and if they wanted to share their experience with the class. Well, they’re second graders so naturally they believe their lives are scattered with drama.
So I began to hear all kinds of stories. One little boy explained to me in great detail about how his dog ate his face. When I asked him how that was possible since his face seemed fine, he looked at me like I had six eyes, shook his head and calmly said, “well, it growed back since then.”
Others had similar, though less dramatic stories of things their siblings did to them, goldfish dying, bicycle accidents, stitches, a pet snake that escaped and a birthday cake that didn’t have the right frosting.
Then there was a little boy we’ll call Johnny.
Thankfully, Johnny was the last to go and at the back of the carpet. He was also the most animated. Johnny jumped up when it was his turn and started speaking quickly but clearly.
“The worst day I ever had was when me and my family went to Sesame Place and my penis burned the whole day.” As he said the words he proceeded to grab himself between his legs and hop from side to side.
I know you’ve all had those moments in life when you hear or see something you didn’t expect and your initial reaction is to stare with your mouth open.
That was me. It’s during those crazy moments when you’re grateful for small blessings, like the fact that Johnny was using the proper terminology.
When I finally slapped myself into the here and now and realized what was happening, I thanked him for telling us about his experience and tried to get him to sit down. But Johnny wasn’t having any of it. He kept on hopping from side to side as he held himself saying, “but you don’t understand, it reeeeaaaally buuuurrrrnnned,”
So if you ever think you’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, just imagine how little Johnny felt that day in Sesame Place.
Or, you could think of me watching Johnny with seventeen other second graders and their individual reactions to his story.
Either way, your day should improve very quickly.