Musings: Cheer Up!

Today’s topic is: “How do you cheer up a grouchy person?”


Photo from Time Magazine

Well, obviously, it depends on the person and the circumstances, but the solutions for cheering up my family members usually involve food.

When my two-year-old daughter Maggie is grouchy, it’s usually because she is tired but won’t slow down long enough to fall asleep. So a bottle of milk almost always does the trick. If it’s not a sleep or food issue, a snuggle with singing or reading a book with Mama can work too.

When my three-year-old daughter Cambria is grouchy, it could be for a handful of reasons, many of which I’m still trying to figure out. Sometimes it’s because she doesn’t want to share a particular book/toy with her little sister. Sometimes she didn’t get a long enough nap. Sometimes it’s because she asked for something and I said “no” (which usually leads to her in a short-lived fake-sad moaning pile on the floor). But sometimes she is hungry because she got distracted during our last meal by random things like repeating the word “aya-fa-my-a” (which I recently said when I burned myself and wanted to swear but luckily didn’t). A half hour after the meal is over, she’s asking for a snack. Unfortunately for her, we have a no-food-between-meals policy (Satter’s philosophy), so I offer her a drink of water and then try to distract her with a book (or in weaker moments, a movie) until snack time. If hunger’s not the problem, quiet time in her big-girl bed with a pile of books will usually cheer her up.

When I’m grouchy, my loving husband forcibly recommends (just like those Snickers ads) that I go eat something. If that’s not the reason for my cloudy disposition, a little “me” time (reading, knitting, writing, or watching rerun episodes of FriendsHow I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, or Top Gear) usually fixes it.

(Are you noticing a trend here?)

While the females of this house tend to ride the rough waves of emotional expression, my husband is soundly anchored in a calm cove. When I met him, he was a 41-year-old bachelor living a very peaceful existence in this old farmhouse. I affectionately labeled him a ‘duck’ because everything seems to roll off his back (a personality trait I am hoping to acquire someday). As a result, he is very rarely in a grouchy mood. But when it does happen, if it’s not because of something I did (and trust me, I know when it’s something I did), I’ve learned it’s best not to pry too much. I simply ask if I can help and if he says no, I offer to make him a cup of tea or a Triple Berry pie.



Along these same lines, I must tell you about an extraordinary thing that happened to me yesterday. The girls and I make a weekly trip to town to visit the library and the grocery store (and the park when the weather is nice, which it wasn’t). Just before leaving the library, I asked if a book I had requested through interlibrary loan had been delivered yet. The librarians checked the box but couldn’t find it. So the girls and I checked out our other books and movies and headed out to our next errand.

Several minutes later, while standing in line at the grocer’s deli counter, one of the librarian taps me on the shoulder! She was dressed in her winter coat, holding the paperback I had requested! It had been in the bottom of the box after all and she didn’t want me to have to make a special trip into town to get it. I was so delighted that she had made this (completely unexpected) extra effort for me, I couldn’t help but give her a hug! She smiled, handed me the book, and walked the two blocks back to the library.

A small act of kindness can make all the difference in a person’s day.

I wasn’t grouchy yesterday; I was having a normal, everyday kind of day. But after her thoughtfulness, yesterday turned out to be one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. I’m already trying to think of the proper way to say ‘thank you’. Maybe for next week’s visit, I’ll bring them a pie.


Do you know a sure-fire way to cheer someone up? Please share it in the comments below.

~ Phoebe DeCook

(P.S. If you missed my introduction to these “Musings”, you can read from the beginning here.)

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3 thoughts on “Musings: Cheer Up!

  1. Diane says:

    If you are crabby…go to the library and use a book to bury yourself in someone else’s life….but don’t choose a tear jerker! LOL. Isn’t our library staff th greatest!!! Food usually works for me too!


  2. phoebedecook says:

    Great idea Diane. I just checked out “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I couldn’t put it down last night; finished 70 pages before I finally had to go to bed.


  3. Marla says:

    Those gals at the library are such good people. They come to prairie Meadows twice a month to spend time reading, reminiscing and visiting with the residents. They also delivered a book I had requested right to the front desk when it came in. They say the new library should be ready about august.


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