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Which Puppy?

By Kate Feiffer, Jules Feiffer

Behind the Book

Sometimes I feel that I find a story that’s waiting for me to pick it up, as if it’s been abandoned by the side of the road. Sometimes I feel that I create a story from scraps left around my house. Henry the Dog with No Tail is an example of something that I pulled together from the scraps of my life. I found My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life in the cafeteria at my daughter’s school.

Let me explain.

It appears that I sometimes do things that my daughter, Maddy, finds embarrassing. To me, my transgressions seem rather inconsequential, but I’ve been told that calling her Madaroo instead of Maddy in front of her friends isn’t a good thing.

The day I found the story that became My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life started as a relatively normal day, albeit an unseasonably cold one. Maddy, then in second grade, left for school wearing a sweater and sweatpants. Sometime mid-morning, the weather shifted gears. I was worried that Maddy might be uncomfortable in her warm clothes, and since her school is only a four-minute drive from our house, I decided I’d bring her a pair of shorts. I arrived while the second graders were eating lunch. I walked to the table where Maddy was sitting, held out the shorts and said, “I thought you might be hot so I brought these for you to change into.”

The words that came out of her mouth were, “I’m fine.”

The look she gave me said something entirely different. “I can’t believe you are standing there in front of my friends holding up a pair of my shorts. How can you be doing this to me? You are so embarrassing,” is what her look said.

I tucked the shorts into my bag, returned home, sat down at my computer, and started writing My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life. The story had been waiting for me in the cafeteria at my daughter’s school. I just needed to find it.