I am so so so excited because Linda Urban's new picture book, Mouse Was Mad, came out this week! I haven't seen it yet (that's my weekend treat to myself), but her quirky middle grade novel, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, was one the most enjoyable kids books of the decade. I'm not exaggerating.
Anyway, to celebrate the publication, Ms. Urban is having a mad contest over at her blog, Crooked Perfect. Just leave her a comment telling her
- what makes you mad, and
- your favorite way to feel better
I couldn't wait to jump right on it, but then I ran into a problem. As many of you know, there is not a lot that can make me mad. Not real, hopping, smoke-out-the-ears mad. My default is the whole "well that's out of my control" or "you never know what that person is going through" or "who cares?" stuff that drives my husband crazy. Every once in a while, he'll say to me in a fury, "It's okay to be mad, you know! Don't you ever just want to be mad?"
Since I really want to win this book, I had to dig deep. I can think of three instances over the years where I have been red-hot:
1. Pure, animal mad. Flashback to the eighties. I was eleven or twelve (in my permed ponytail and lip smackers gloss, no doubt) babysitting my three younger siblings.
What made me mad? My brother wouldn't go to bed. I lost it. Really lost it. I tried to order, beg, threaten. Instead, he started to kick.
What did I do to feel better? I bit him. Hard. On the leg. At the moment, it felt good. I got even. But the swollen bruise that formed over the week was hideous and the guilt I felt for *years* was even worse. Oh, he went to bed, though.
2. Sick to my stomach mad. In high school, we had dress-up days during Homecoming Week. You know, Pajama Day, '60s Day, all that good stuff.
What made me mad? On Color Day, one of my classmates came to school in a KKK costume. Not just that, he won first prize in the student choice awards. Not just that, the principal handed him the award. SERIOUSLY.
What did I do to feel better? Writer and confrontation-avoider that I am, I wrote a letter to the school newspaper. The teacher who ran the paper wouldn't print it, but she "thought it was a good letter" and took the liberty to send it to the county paper. Let's just say there were repercussions until I graduated, but I have always been glad I wrote that letter.
This one still makes me mad.
3. Fighting mad. These days, there is one thing that can consistently get me riled.
What makes me mad? When I come across a parent or a teacher who writes off a child. You know the kind. A kid doesn't "fit in" or have the same skill set as other kids or doesn't come from the right family and the adult (who should know better) assumes they are "stupid" or a "loser" or "will never amount to anything." I grew up around a lot of these kinds of adults (thankfully, not my parents, who are the exact opposite of this) and I see them in my day-to-day life, and they make me mad, mad, mad!
What do I do to feel better? I work harder. I teach workshops and music lessons and sing and write for kids. I try to help every kid I interact with know that they have something to offer to the world. Because they do. Every one. If they have negative adults in their life, I know I can't fix it. But if I can make a difference with one. Cancel out one voice in the crowd. Well, that's something.
I guess the take away is that for me, doing something about it is what makes me less mad. How about you?