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This is a submission in our monthly contest. January’s theme is “Wild.” Enter your own here!

When I hear the term “wild” I am automatically transported to the scene in Maurice Sendak’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” in which Max is sent to his room for behaving, well, wild. Even more poignant is when, on the island, Max is crowned King of the Wild Things and one of his first matters of business is to order all to dance at the wild rumpus. While stomping and roaring they all are able to release their inner beast. Thrilling, isn’t it? It’s exciting to think that for one brief moment one can rid themselves of social customs, enforced mannerisms and expected formalities. And don’t you think that for Max, and for the “wild things” living in our own homes, a spontaneous wild rumpus might have been more effective than being sent up to his room. What a wild idea!

I find that when my children’s behavior, and mine for that matter, begins to escalate it is because they’ve bottled up unresolved issues. These issues may stem from hunger, sleepiness, feeling unwell or uneasy, stress, disappointment, and much, much more. The scale of discomfort can range from mild to severe. But whatever the cause they almost always feel better, even if only momentarily, when they can distract themselves with a burst of healthy energy.

I am certain that if asked my children would inform you that I have, in fact, sent them up to their rooms and that, at times, was certainly warranted. I wonder, though, if they would also tell you of the times I, like King Max, ordered instead the commencement of the wild rumpus.

Sometimes we would stand together encircled about the room. Huffing and puffing, sucking air in and blowing out, we imagined ourselves as giant, monstrous volcanoes. Standing with legs spread wide apart and arms held tightly together, reaching high up to the sky, we would roar loudly, allowing ourselves to erupt. Roars were followed by jumps into the air. Hot lava spewed as we landed on feet, straight-legged, knees locked together, and arms held soldier like at our sides. Huge cities populated by our living frustrations would be destroyed by hot, flowing magma. We did this again and again. Boom! Crash! Bang! Wild!

Other times we would manage our anger by rolling up socks, tucking them tightly into squishy balls. We did this to every pair of socks that we owned. Armed heavily at the top of the stairs we would wait for Dad, the unsuspecting intruder, to arrive home from work. Once he stepped inside and sat down his bag a battle would inevitably commence. Socks would fly targeting Dad who eagerly returned the fire. Parents and children ran to and fro. All the while sock balls bombarded every square inch of the front room. Squeals and screams of delight erased angry feelings and snarls. For especially hectic phases, socks would be exchanged for marshmallows. Wild!

Still yet, one or more kids just couldn’t keep mean notions inside and that’s when they were deemed truly wild. Transformed into beasts of their own choosing they were banished to the “forests” outside. As dinosaurs, cheetahs, tigers and even crocodiles they would run from captors or chase their prey around and around the trees. Exhausted but content they inevitably returned ready to act nice and sweet. Wild!

Whether by spewing volcanoes, attacking intruders with sock ammunition, chasing prey or dancing at a real life wild rumpus, I find that our wild moments can often be tamed by a healthy change of focus and energy. May Max less often be banished to his room and more often be thrown a wildly vivacious rumpus.

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