As we get further and further into this period of self-quarantining, we are all becoming more and more restless. When will we go back to normal? When will we be able to see our friends and family in person again?
The answer of “I don’t know” just doesn’t really cut it, and yet, it is all we have. Sure, there are tiered systems of responses and levels of when we’ll be able to start implementing them, but in truth, we just don’t know.
Waiting is hard.
It’s hard for kids on the best day, and right now – everything feels so much harder.
There are a few great picture books that can help us talk to children about just how ridiculous hard waiting is. My current favorite for this time period is The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach. In this book a caterpillar tries to wait patiently to metamorphosize into a butterfly, but finds those first few days in the cocoon painfully boring. He tries to come out too early, only to find out he doesn’t have the wings yet. Finally, he slows down, takes some deep breaths, and is able to make it through the two weeks to become a beautiful butterfly (who now has to patiently migrate). I love telling kids that I identify with the impatient caterpillar right now – that I just want to come out and that it feels hard to wait. Their eyes get big and shocked as they wonder how an adult could be impatient too. It’s a great way to open up a conversation about how waiting is hard for everyone.
Another one of my favorite waiting books is Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems. I have had so many children tell me that this is their absolute favorite Gerald and Piggie book, and I think that is because the message truly resonates with them. In this book Piggie announces that he has a surprise for Gerald but that Gerald has to wait. Gerald finds this very difficult and in true Mo Willems’ fashion, becomes extremely dramatic as he tries to wait for the surprise. Again, this is a great book to open up the conversation about how waiting is hard, but that in the end it is often worth it.
This time is difficult for all of our kids right now. Having book characters to relate to about how difficult waiting is for everyone will help normalize their feelings and help them recognize that we are all in this together, caterpillar, elephant, and us.