Excerpt

Joel Yanofsky
from “Bad Day”

Dr. G. is a soft-spoken woman, probably in her mid-fifties, who manages to balance kindness with detachment. It’s a characteristic of the mental health care profession I can’t get used to. There are probably sound reasons for this approach, this impersonal compassion, but the only one I can think of is that it’s because they know that no matter what they say they are only guessing; that when it comes to figuring out human behaviour, the odds will always be stacked against them.

***

“Give me an instead of,” Jonah says. By this he means include the words “instead of” in the story. For instance, Ellie ordered blueberry pancakes with syrup but “instead of” getting syrup she got mustard. There’s a lesson here too: my son understands what some of us never manage to. What some of us keep forgetting. Not getting what you want is bad, yes, but it’s nowhere near as bad as expecting more than you get. You want to tell a truly sad story, a crushing one, that’s the component you’re looking for.



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