Crabby People Need Grace

Why are you crabby? You told me all you wanted for Christmas was a card. What could you possibly be crabby about?


Of course, I’m crabby! Nicholas, it’s February. This is a combined Valentine’s Day/Christmas card. Excuse me if I’m not jumping up and down with gratitude. And don’t tell me I’m crabby. Pointing out that I’m crabby only makes me crabbier!


I hate being told I’m crabby. Maybe that’s why my heart goes out to Mr. Fish.


Mr. Fish is the main character in the children’s book, The Pout-Pout Fish. His days are spent spreading dreary wearies all over the place. He knows he is crabby and admits it to everyone on the ocean floor. And how do the sea creatures respond? They point out his crabbiness, call him names, and demand he change his attitude.


I recently wheeled a cart full of groceries to the checkout only to discover I had an expired card, no checkbook, and not enough cash. Embarrassed, I told the cashier that I couldn’t pay for my groceries. She could have been annoyed, angry, or sarcastic. Instead, she extended empathy, assured me that this scenario has happened before and encouraged me to choose to laugh about it.


This is the reaction I need from others when crabbiness begins to surface.


This is the reaction I need to extend to my daughter.


When my little girl is crabby, I am quick to say, turn your frown upside down, put a smile on your face, change your attitude, stop pouting and stop being a crab! I forget she needs grace extended to her too.


Can you relate?


Crabby kids don’t need to be told they are crabby. Crabby kids need to know they are seen, heard, and loved.


  • Acknowledge that you see your son/daughter looking frustrated, angry, or annoyed.
  • Ask your son/daughter if he/she wants to share why they are feeling this way. If so, listen. If they don’t want to talk, let them know you’re available if they change their mind.
  • Tell your son/daughter that you love them. Nothing they tell you could make you love them less.

Thankfully, The Pout-Pout Fish story doesn’t end there. A fish named Miss Shimmer spots Mr. Fish and without saying a word, she plants a kiss upon his pout and swims away. This simple act results in Mr. Fish replacing his dreary-wearies with cheery-cheeries.


I long to be a Miss Shimmer to my kiddo. I also desire to be a Miss Shimmer (minus the kissing part) to my co-workers, neighbors, friends, and even the lady ahead of me in Target who is making 100+ returns.


There are pout-pout fish all around us. Which means there may be more opportunities to extend God’s love and grace than there are fish in the sea. And though crabby begets crabby, cheery-cheeries replace dreary-wearies every single time.