Katie Fitzgerald suggests the perfect picture book for any mom who has ever lost her temper with her daughter.
Whenever I go to Confession, one of the sins I often have to disclose is losing my temper and yelling at my kids, especially one daughter who really knows how to press my buttons. If you also struggle with handling your frustrations with your spirited or mischievous daughters, I have the perfect picture book for your family. It’s called Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild!
Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Caldecott Honor illustrator Marla Frazee, this book portrays a relationship between a little girl named Harriet and her mom. Harriet is about preschool age, and, like my daughter, she gets herself into trouble almost without realizing it. Throughout the book, she is seen dribbling jam on her clean clothes, dripping paint on the rug, and dumping her lunch plate on the floor, all during times when her mom is desperately trying to accomplish a household task. Finally, Harriet makes a really big mess, and Mom, who doesn’t like to yell, loses her temper in spite of herself. Afterward, Harriet apologizes for her mistakes, and Mom apologizes for yelling. She and Harriet share a hug, and then work on cleaning up Harriet’s anger-inducing mess together.
This book really gets to the heart of the dynamic that can sometimes develop between moms and daughters when one is really testing the patience of the other. Instead of focusing on the flaws of either character, however, the story emphasizes the importance of their relationship and models the best way for moms to reconcile with their kids after they lose their tempers. The illustrations capture a lot of the emotional build-up to the big moment of crisis through facial expressions, which really help kids identify with the feelings of both characters. There is also a gentle sweetness to the illustrator’s depiction of Harriet, which can really help soften a mom toward those little girls who might drive us wild sometimes.
I have read this book with each of my kids, but of all of us, I think I like it the most. I really empathize with Harriet’s mom and her desire to just get the garden watered, the phone call made, and the bills paid, and the author does a great job of portraying Mom’s behavior as a temporary flare-up of anger and not as an immutable aspect of her character. This story is a beautiful reminder that each day, and even each moment, is an opportunity to start fresh, to make amends, and to move forward in love, and that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Whether your girls are in preschool or high school, this is a book every mom can enjoy. Though the subject matter is serious, the treatment is light, and the story can go a long way toward helping you to forgive yourself when you fly off the handle and to seek that forgiveness from your kids.
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! has been a big favorite in my family. I hope it blesses yours, too!
Copyright 2021 Katie Fitzgerald
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.