Last week we received a book in the post. My Mum had seen it advertised and decided she had to get us a copy. It’s called: My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson. It’s brilliant.
It’s a picture book. Munchkin loves it. It’s all about Bella, a pre-schooler of around 3, her baby brother, Bob and their Mum. Bella wakes up one morning to find Bob in her rooms licking her jewellery and so begins her Big Shouting Day!
Nothing works for Bella that day. She hs “THAT EGG” her biscuit breaks and her toothpaste is “TOO MINTY”. Poor Bella has a day where nothing goes well.
What resonated with me the most was the picture of the long suffering mother looking more and more dishevelled through the book and speaking to Bella through gritted teeth at points.
OH Munchkin and I laughed ll the way through. Luckily I wasn’t feeling to sensitive when the gift arrived and my mother said, “I saw it and immediately thought of you!”
It seems not everyone enjoyed it as much as us – this review from the Guardian says that the children found Bella too shouty and the mother implausibly patient. The reviewer also says that she doesn’t like the fact that the mother doesn’t work through the feelings until the end of the book, but for me this was the point. When we read it to Munchkin we explain and talked through the feelings. We commented on Bella’s bad day and her mother’s calm, count to 10 manner. In my opinion it is not the job of a book to explain feelings and situations to my daughter, it is my job. The book is merely a jumping off point.
As for the mother’s patience? Yes, at points I would have been infuriated if Munchkin behaved like that throughout the day, but this isn’t real, it is a distillation of reality. This may be a picture book, but it still has to follow the conventions of fiction – the plot of any story is usually a lot more action packed than real life. Yes Munchkin does have shouty moments, but rarely shouty days and the saintly patience of the mother is also a distillation. I know that the times I am calm are the times when tantrums are shorter and the times I shout are the times things escalate out of proportion. We are not perfect – we all get it wrong sometimes, but this book helped me to reflect on my behaviour and also made me remember that we all have “those days” be we adult or child.
The other thing that I am glad to use this book to talk to my daughter about is our ability to laugh at ourselves and see the ridiculousness of our own behaviour at times. In my opinion the ability not to take yourself too seriously is a great skill in life and when we said to Munchkin – “Is Bella funny? Do you shout about silly things sometimes too?” She began the journey to laughing at herself and also to seeing the ridiculousness of some of her behaviours.
One of the comments on the back of the book is that it is “reassuring” and I would agree with this too. For the adult (and this book is definitely written for us grown-ups too) this is the equivalent of talking through a crap day with a friend. It’s cathartic. It’s always good to know others have the same issues as you. Good to know yours is not the only child to throw a tantrum about ridiculous things and that you are not the only Mum worry that you’re being judged for your ‘bad’ parenting.
It is a great book for discussing feelings with your child. I think it helped Munchkin to know she’s not alone in feeling cross for no reason. As the Mum says at the end, “We all have days like that”… don’t you have some days you wish you could just lie on the pavement and shout?