P

eaches has been in a frightful mood for a week.

To be fair, she hasn’t been well. A nasty cold has plagued her for roughly the same amount of time, so this is a factor, to be sure. It is the various expressions of her sour mood that have become trying.

Yesterday, we endured a loud, angry monologue about how she should not be forced to attend her brother’s basketball game. The volume and length of the tirade spoke to the depth of the perceived indignity and I watched her stomp nearly a quarter of a mile into the gym, refusing to walk with either her father and brother or me, maintaining an impressively equidistant position between us.

Then earlier this afternoon, when I was unable to understand the nuance of a question about her math homework, she became enraged, throwing a pencil (away from me) and stretching out to her full length to lie prone on the floor in some sort of show of nearly- nonviolent opposition to the remainder of the assignment.

We are completing our seventh full day of declarative statements like these:

“I’m cold.”

“My legs hurt.”

“I hate having my nails clipped.”

“I don’t want to.”

“I don’t care.”


So, yeah, it’s been a long week.

I find myself returning to the words of my favorite and best shrink who, on one occasion, reminded me that it was perfectly acceptable for people—even ones we loved—to be in a bad mood. When I back away from her behavior and squint at it as though she was one of those Impressionist messes, I can even see how it is important that my child is comfortable expressing feelings of frustration of irritation as they arise. And let me assure you, she’s comfortable. The way I see it, my job is mostly to help her develop ways to express her generalized displeasures in safe, pencil-free ways.

But I never did get around to asking that shrink, how long is it acceptable for a person we love to be in an awful mood? Because I’m sick of Peaches persistent dyspeptic unpleasantness already.

Tonight I asked Peaches if she would be alright with me writing about her bad mood. To my surprise, she smiled. She appeared to be genuinely delighted with the idea and gave me her blessing. At this writing, she is considering my request to pen her own sentence in which she gives voice to the second-grade demons bedeviling her these last days.

Although her support for this piece has given me pause, that smile of hers the first sunny spot we’ve had in several days. What does it take to scatter an accumulation of clouds like those that have gathered about her? Acknowledging her funk simply by calling attention to it?

If so, you’ve already helped by reading this. Peaches and I thank you.