Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a warm, dry wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson was in a bad mood. He had been in a bad mood all day. When he woke up, it was cold and he wanted to stay in bed and snuggle down but Aunt Lillibet wanted to wash the sheets so he had to get up. When he got dressed, his favourite orange jumper was in the wash so he had to wear his scratchy blue jumper, and that made him really grumpy. He took all his clothes out of his cupboard looking for his jumper and made such a mess that his mother made him tidy up his room before he was allowed to go out and play. That made him so cranky that he took forever to put his clothes away, and when he finally finished it was raining and he couldn’t ride his bike.
He sat on the floor feeling mad and grumpy and cranky and grizzly and angry and generally growly with everyone.
His mother said, “You’re in a bad mood, aren’t you?”
Benson grumped, “It’s raining and now I can’t go out. If you hadn’t made me tidy my room, I would have been able to go out and play.”
His mother said, “If you hadn’t made such a big mess, you wouldn’t have had to tidy it.”
Benson said, “That wasn’t my fault! I couldn’t find my orange jumper because Aunt Lillibet was washing it. And I have to wear this one and it scratches me.”
His mother looked at him. Then she came and sat down beside him. “You’re feeling bad now because you can’t do what you wanted to do.”
Benson growled in a grumpy way.
His mother said, “I think I know something that will make you feel happier.”
Benson humphed. He didn’t want to be happy, he wanted to be mad at everyone.
His mother said, “Sometimes when I feel bad, I try to think of something I can be thankful for. Remember that time we had a picnic and you dropped the whole apple pie in the creek? I was cranky because we weren’t going to get any apple pie, but then I felt thankful that you didn’t fall in too, and I didn’t feel angry or unhappy any more.”
Benson thought about it, but he still felt grumpy. “I can’t think of anything,” he said.
“Well, you can be thankful that this scratchy jumper is too small for you and I’m going to give it to your cousin Elmer so you’ll never have to wear it again.”
“Really?” said Benson.
“Mmm-hmm,” said his mother. “And you can be thankful you didn’t go out on your bike or you would have gotten all wet when it started to rain.”
Benson imagined riding his bike in the rain, cold and wet. He said, “Mmm, maybe.”
“Can you think of something to be thankful for?” his mother asked.
“I could be thankful that my room is tidy and I won’t have to tidy it again. And also, I found the missing pieces from my Snakes and Ladders game when I was tidying. And also, I found the library book that I lost, the one about making paper planes. I found it down the side of my bed when I was taking the sheets off.”
“You know what I can be thankful for?” his mother said. “That even though it’s raining, we can still play Snakes and Ladders.”
Benson smiled. He said, “And we can make paper planes and fly them in the kitchen because it’s too wet to go outside.”
“You’ll have to fly them in your room,” said his mother. “We can’t fly them in the kitchen because Aunt Moss is making banana muffins.”
“Banana muffins?” Benson said. He was feeling much happier.
His mother nodded. “You know she always loves to cook when it’s cold and rainy.”
They went out to the kitchen together to see if Aunt Moss needed any help with stirring or licking the bowl. The muffins were in the oven, smelling wonderful. Benson said, “Thankyou, Aunt Moss.”
Aunt Lillibet came into the kitchen, looking very cranky.
“I’ve washed all the sheets,” she said, “and now it’s raining and I can’t hang them out to dry.”
“Don’t worry,” Benson said. “You can be thankful that you won’t have to bring them in again. And there are muffins. And after we’ve eaten the muffins we’re going to make paper planes and play Snakes and Ladders.”
“Muffins?” Aunt Lillibet said. “I might make my chocolate-almond-beetroot cake.”
“Wonderful,” Benson’s mother said. “Thankyou, Lillibet.”
They ate the muffins while they were still warm, and then they played Snakes and Ladders until the chocolate cake was ready.