One of my favorite picture books of all time is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. I was introduced to it one summer, almost twenty years ago, when I worked with a class of autistic children as a teaching assistant. This book was a particular favorite among the kids, and I read it aloud over and over and over. It’s a good thing for me that I fell in love with it.
It drew me in with its repetitive and rhythmic nature. And I enjoyed playfully acting out the story. Each section begins with the same chorus: We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared.
It then goes on as the bear-hunting family is confronted with one or another natural element—grass, a river, a snowstorm—that they must conquer in order to continue their hunt. And as they face each obstacle the family declares: We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it!
And so they proceed, relating the sounds they make going through each experience. Amid the grass it is: Swishy swashy! Swish swashy! Swishy swashy! In the river, it’s: Splash splosh! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!
My favorite though, is the mud the Thick, oozy mud. I like to think about it as I determine to tackle complications and struggles in my life—the small things, like going to the dentist; the big things, like submitting my novel; and the heartrending things, like my cat acting like she’s on death’s door (though, thankfully, she seems to be improving.)
I could wring my hands and rend my clothing at any of these things, but instead, I try to think about the mud. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it! Reciting these words to myself helps me smile—however slightly. It makes me feel that things are a little less wrought with difficulty than they may immediately seem. Unpleasant though the situation may be, in some way or another, it’s a beautiful day! and the rest is all just mud to be gotten through. One step at a time.
Squelch, squerch! Squelch, squerch! Squelch, squerch!