Alexander is a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Kid
Right!? I get it. He’s sad because things keep on going badly for him, but most of the stuff this kid complains about is his own damn fault. I never read Alexander and Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day as a kid, but my ten-month-old loves to flip the pages over and over. When my mom read it to my three-year-old nephew, she said it was too much of a bummer. She didn’t like the ending: “My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.” She added something about days getting better. She felt bad for Alexander. Really, that kid!? I think it was the first time she read the book; otherwise, she would have seen what I see.
Just look at the first thing he says about his day: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair.” Sure you’re gonna have a bad day if you eat gum while you sleep. Should I feel bad for you when you set the stage for your own bad day? Also, that opening is in tetrameter (dactylic maybe?) but then the meter quickly falls apart, and that throws me off with every read. And doesn’t that say it all. We start with musicality and balance, but Alexander disrupts his own rhythm with a litany of complaints that ceases to flow with the ease of the opening quarter-sentence. And those run-ons interspersed with choppy and repetitive structure! Ugh, a nightmare for an English major to read. So off the bat I have no sympathy for a kid who’d go to bed chewing gum and then complain about it in the morning and then tease me with the hint of metricality before quickly giving up on balance, elegance, and eloquence.
Yeah, you tripped on your skateboard because you didn’t put it away. Probably left it beside your bed, eh? Sure, it sucks when your brothers find prizes in their cereal and you don’t – I don’t think they put prizes in much anymore – but moving to Australia is just running away from your problems, problems you caused. Are you gonna leave your skateboard out beside your bed in Australia too?
Man, that invisible castle thing? You got lazy and didn’t draw a picture, didn’t you, and now you’re upset ‘cause the teacher liked an actual picture better than your blank page? If you’re gonna be a jerk about drawing time, at least have the courage of your convictions to stand by your BS move and not act like you weren’t trying to be clever and lazy. And what have you got against sixteen, mister? You were singing too loud, just look at how wide your mouth is in that picture. You know you’re screaming the words and drowning out the other kids, so you don’t get my sympathy when you complain about getting called out for the problems you’re causing. The one thing I feel for the most with Alexander is how his friend Paul relegates him to third-best friend, but maybe it’s ‘cause Paul and Philip and Albert are fed up with Alexander hogging teacher’s attention with his antics. Ok fine, mom forgot your desert, but maybe she found out about you chewing gum before bed and this was a rightful punishment.
Granted, having to go to the dentist after all that other crap is a real kick in the teeth, but that cavity will still be there with you in Australia and maybe you shouldn’t have stuck your foot in the path of the closing elevator doors. Sure you’re in pain, but all that gum before bed is probably the reason you’ve got a cavity. Hey, you know why no one listens to you when you complain about having a bad day? Because you’re the one who hit first when your brother teased you. Besides, your mom obviously heard you because she reassures you at the end of the book, though you don’t deserve it.
I’ll give you this: saying “you can’t make me wear them” about the shoes you don’t like is a baller move. Best part of the day, and there’s a moment of triumph taking control of the situation and owning it. If only you had taken responsibility and recognized your own role in your fate during the rest of this so-called horrible day. Like at your dad’s office, when you “forgot” to not play with the copy machine, or when you were careful with your whole body except your elbow. And one does not simply walk into his dad’s office and call Australia by accident. Clearly, the dad’s the one having the bad day; that’s why he no longer wants to be picked up from work if it’ll mean dealing with more “accidents”.
You don’t want your marble to fall down the drain? How about sticking to bath toys only at bath time? I get not liking your pajamas though, because kids don’t get a lot of say in their choice of wardrobe, but the fact that you’re wearing them tells me that your earlier statement about not wearing the shoes is just a bluff. And that’s disappointing. Frankly, you should be glad the cat doesn’t want to sleep with you since with your attitude it would probably try to scratch you and meow in your face in the morning. And take your gum. Oh? You don’t like lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV? How about a whiny, ill-behaved kid complaining all day about the things he hates?
Mom is right: some days are like that in Australia because you’ll be the same terrible kid no matter where you live.