The other day I had to speak to a group of kids about maintaining hope when things aren’t going so well. We talked about bad days. Here’s what they contributed.
“So, how would a bad day start?”
“When you have to get up early.” “When you get out of bed and bump your head.” “When you don’t want to get out of bed so you bump your head.”
“So, you’re up and you have to get dressed. Then you find out you don’t have any clean socks. Or worse, no clean underpants.”
“Or no clean pants or tops or anything and you have to go out in the nicky-nicky-nude.”
“It’s breakfast time. You pour the cereal into your bowl, you go to the fridge, open the door and…”
“There’s no milk.” “There’s nothing there at all.” “You have toast.”
“Then you go to school (probably hungry) and the teacher says, ‘I hope you have your excursion permission slip today. You won’t be able to go if you don’t.’ Of course you don’t have it.”
“I don’t want to go on the excursion anyway.”
“It’s the end of the day and you’re waiting for your mum or dad to pick you up…”
“And they FORGET!” “AGAIN! And look surprised when you walk in the door having walked home! On a hot day!” “That’s happened to me!” (This generated a fair bit of passionate discussion almost exclusively from my own children. So I told them, “Every child has to be forgotten to be picked up at least once in their life. It’s a rite of passage.”)
“So you get home (somehow), sit down to do your homework and…”
“You’ve forgotten your homework book.” “You’ve forgotten your textbook.” “You forgot your school bag.” (I’m a bit worried about some of these children.)
“Dinner time. What would dinner time be like on a bad day?”
“You drop your plate on the floor.” “It’s food you don’t like.”
“What sort of food would that be? What don’t you like?”
“Chocolate cake with pumpkin.” (The mother of the child who said this stood up and announced loudly, “I’ve never served that!”)
“So by this time you probably just want to go to bed, right?”
I love talking to kids about stuff. They are small conduits of innocent perspective and transparent wisdom. And often hilariously funny.
Having dissected the components of a bad day, we then spoke about what might help to make it a better day and we agreed talking to someone could help. (Someone said, “Talk to your mother” to which one joker responded, “Unless it’s your mother that’s giving you the bad day.” Predictably, the joker was one of mine.)
We talked about prayer and how it can help to send a silent call for help and know that even if there’s no magic to make the bad day just disappear, it can make a difference to know you’ve been heard and someone cares you’re having a bad day.
I’ve written previously about the remarkable singing group I attend every Friday. I’d had a tough week and by the time I walked in the door for singing last Friday morning I didn’t know if I wanted to burst into tears or punch a wall. Over the course of the next hour a beautiful thing happened.
Occasionally we are given the opportunity to volunteer to sing a verse solo during a song. The rest of the group joins in with the chorus. At these times I usually become incredibly fascinated with my shoes. It was always something I was never going to do. But on this day, I felt a metaphorical prod in my back and to everyone’s surprise (certainly mine), I slowly raised a quivering hand and said, “I’ll do it.”
When it came to my turn, I was terrified. My hands shook so much I looked like I was fanning myself and I wondered how anyone could possibly hear my voice over the loud thumping of my heart. But I did it. And survived. And I knew I was fully supported by the group.
Afterwards, people made sensitive, encouraging comments and I felt uplifted. Soon, I came to realise that my bad day had come good. When I had cried in the car on my way there, “How am I going to get through today?” I could not have known that help was on its way in the most unlikely of occurrences.
For me, it’s God. For you it may be the Universe, your own inner voice, or someone else’s voice in your head. Whatever it is for you, when the bad days come, send out an SOS and be prepared to watch and listen, and then to respond to the help that will come, sometimes in a way you might never imagine possible.