I was “straightening” up the boys’ room the other day (read: tossing shit out with my Hazmat suit on), when I came across this book. Next to The Monster at the End of this Book, I used to read I was so Mad to the kids all the time. I was so Mad? They loved. That Grover book? Not so much. I think the reason they loved I was so Mad, was more how I read it, rather than for the content. Cause just like everything else, I can’t seem to leave well enough alone. I’ve got to make it my own (read: ruin it).
The book starts off with Lil Critter in a ripe, foul mood. You parents out there in New Tomorrowland know what I’m talking about. Some days kids just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. And no matter what you tell them to do, they just don’t want to. There’s a word for it, actually: salty. Lil Critter is one salty dog. First off, he wants to keep some frogs in the tub. WTF?!?! Of course his mom won’t let him, what’s he thinking?
Next, he wants to play in the clean sheets, but his Grandma won’t let him. By the time Lil Critter runs into Grandpa, he’s raging. I mean, look, a kid can only be told “no” so many times. Lil Critter says “Was I ever mad.” But, I read it like he really means it: “Was I ever pissed! (And let me tell you, that small change would crack the kids up. I always had to read that page multiple times. All because I would say: “Was I ever pissed!”)”
I gotta admit, for all the negativity surrounding him, Lil Critter seems pretty well adjusted. His folks must be taking him to a good shrink, because he expresses himself, succinctly. Each time he gets denied, he let’s us know he’s mad. No internalizing or emo bullshit here.
Mom and Dad go on patronizing him, but Lil Critter is real real gone at this point. So much so, that he decides he’s gonna run away. He packs up his wagon with the necessities of life: toys and cookies. And he hits the mothertruckin’ road.
Lil Critter barely gets foot one out the front door, when a couple of his associates ask him if he wants to play ball.
Yea. You read that right. He actually asked his mom if he could go play ball. Wasn’t this kid about to runaway? You’re free, dude! You don’t need to ask that taskmaster what to do anymore! Go! Be free! Get a job at the local mini-mart, crash on your buddies’ couch for the indeterminable future. Eat Ramen noodles and hot dogs until the taste permanently imbeds itself into every fiber of your being (poetry in motion)! It’s the best! Being a kid is such a drag!!!
The last page is a classic. Typical kid! “I’ll run away tomorrow if I’m still so mad.” Like a stupid kid has that kind of memory. I can’t even get Jakob to remember to put his shoes on the step when he comes inside the house. And I gotta remind him EVERY SINGLE DAY!
It’s a shame, cause my kids are just too old for I was so Mad now. They’ve moved on to greener pastures like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Hot Rod. But, every once in awhile, when we’re all feeling good and stupid, I’ve been known to dig it out and have an impromptu dramatic reading.