The godkids, their mama, & their dad have a moods chart on which each has a representative character which they can place in the red, green, yellow, or blue quadrant depending on if they're happy, sad, etc. (Makes me glad I saw Inside Out.) Curiously, both sad and sleepy are blue, which makes sense in an I'm depressed and never getting out of bed sense, but perhaps less in an I've been up since 6a sense.
After dinner D got upset, probably at me for correcting an attitude. But not necessarily. It was a rough day in general and on a couple different fronts. But the kid hops up and swaps her character over to red. And we (5 adults, M, D, and a sibling in the room) ask D why she's red. And she tells us that she's mad. Ok, good start. Why are you mad? We are informed huffily that teacher says when you're mad, you're red. Fair enough. Why are you mad? Teacher says, when you're mad you're red.
This circles and circles unproductively for awhile. And I ask her who is she mad at? Me? Mama? M? Mom? Sibling? (We're really reaching here...) Dad? Uncle Big Frog? ...??? No to all until she gets mad. And when she's mad, teacher says you're red.
Well, that didn't help.
Let's try what are you mad about?
Teacher says mad=red.
Do you like being mad?
Which surprises all of us.
Now the kid is in this terrible cycle. Terrible headspace. And she can't back down even as the questions get ludicrous because that would be losing face. But at least we've broken the momentum. Change of state. And she's listening to the questions instead of just on a single track.
I tell her, I know you may not be ready to give me a hug, but can you receive one from me yet?
Are you always mad?
And it hits me.
So I tell her, "You're an angry duck!"
To which I get lots of eyes suddenly pointing my way, and nods of agreement from Big Frog, which proves yet again that we've been caged together too long.
But it makes perfect sense! And fortunately, my mom's favorite illustrator wrote an entire book about moods. So I beckon D over and ask her if she'll watch a video with me. This screen-happy kid may resist hugs, but never says no to YouTube.
And I'm an interactive reader. So I'm asking her with each animal, and she's responding like Pookie (another favorite by Boynton). Are you happy as a hippo? (No) Are you angry as a duck? (Yes) Are you as sad as a chicken? (No) Can you sadly say, "Cluck cluck"? (No). But the song is catchy and the ukulele music is infectious and little miss angry duck starts smiling.
I love that the song peaks with "We hope you are happy/But if you are not/You have friends who can help you/We like you a lot," and sums up "And a difficult mood is not here to stay/Everyone's moods will change day to day... unless you're that duck/He's always that way."
D's response to this happy little ditty? The one which left her smiling?
A deep, from-the-toes sigh.
And the most distressed, exasperated exclamation: "Now I'm HAPPY!"
I love my littles.