Lately, it seems it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, week, month, and more, but as Judith Viorst would agree, sometimes it is just that way. Reading Peter Baker’s essay in the New Yorker (January 23, 2023) reminded me to look for the humor in those days, even if only looking back at them. The humor always escapes me, as it does Alexander, while in the middle of the muddle.
Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is celebrating its fiftieth year in print, and it might be time to reread it, maybe before you go to bed tonight. The book is short; the plot is spare; Alexander starts his day with no prize in his cereal, no dessert in his lunchbox, falls in the mud, and is forced to eat lima beans at dinner. More horrors ensue, and in the end, the day ends and he goes to sleep, after the Mickey Mouse night light burns out. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Perhaps you’ve had a few of these lately. I have. You know; those days when you wish you had stayed in bed. But rereading Alexander’s trials made me smile. Not that there is hope that future days will be better; Viorst does not promise that. And, like Alexander, there is not much you can do about it.
Baker notes in his article that after writing about Alexander, “Viorst started a six year study of psychoanalysis, a discipline fundamentally concerned with stories we tell ourselves, and the possibility that revising them might make our terrible days a little less so.” Viorst offers no easy way to deal with such days, saying in the end: “Some days are like that…”
In the meantime, muddling through these days, it might be wise to avoid going to bed with gum in your mouth, a sure sign you will wake up with gum in your hair.